2 kids, 1 stroller, 3 winter coats, and a hat walk into a clothing store…

Last night I was informed that a certain clothing store to which I had a sizable store credit was going out of business.  I had been saving that credit and slowly using tiny pieces of it to buy something nice for the kids here and there as needed.  I hadn’t actually been in this store since having “The Muffin”, so I was a little out of touch with what was going on.  I called the store to make sure they were still accepting “store credit” & thank goodness we were still in luck.

Now, I almost decided not to go.  I almost decided that it would be more wise to wait until tomorrow morning, when I could either leave the kids with my husband for an hour, or we could all go together & I could have help shepherding the kids around.  Also, it had started to snow and I could have taken the kids to “nature story hour” at the beautiful glass Howard P. Rowlings Conservatory on Swan Drive.  It would have been so picturesque and lovely – like something out of a movie.  The snow coming down while walking into a beautiful glass arboretum like building full of plants to enjoy story time… I can just hear the incidental movie music now: a kind of tinkling fairy tale music … a little like the Harry Potter music, but more mystic & less creepy … where was I?  Oh yes!  Why did I decide not to give my kids this beautiful memory?  Well, it’s not my fault.  I had to chase “The Muffin” down to get her shoes and coat on.  “The Noodle” took a more direct approach.  “I don’t want my shoes on!  I already told you!”  By the time everyone had their shoes, coat, hats & mittens on, (and was fully dressed complete with diaper change) the story hour was already beginning.  I had a thought that maybe we could just be late (like 20 minutes late, mind you), but then as I was locking the door & setting the alarm, “The Muffin” sat herself down on the very wet deck, and we had to go back inside and change her pants.  So much for story hour – on to the clothing store!

I knew this trip was going to be ambitious, but I didn’t realize that the “Muffin” (who I had strapped in her little umbrella stroller) at one point would bend herself most of the way out of the stroller so that her head was almost touching the ground.  She starts to cry (loudly) that she “wants out” and refuses to sit up straight.  Of course, the way she has arranged herself prevents the stroller from moving an inch & people are starting to look at me with that “well, what are you going to do about it?” kind of look, so I unstrap her – which wasn’t easy, I might add, because she still refused to sit up (and she still had her winter coat on).  Well, you would have thought I had uncaged a wild animal.  Off she goes, giggling, clear to the other end of the store.  “The Noodle” thinks this is great fun & tears after her.  There I am, with my jaw hanging to the floor as I look wildly around to see where they had gone.  Some of the other shoppers are snickering behind hangered sweaters.  Thank goodness the store is filled with older people who found my predicament “cute”!  At one point, I apologized to a lady who told me she was having fun watching us.  Good.  I’m glad someone was having fun (besides my kids).

So, my kids are everywhere, and I’m yelling – but trying not to be yelling – across the store “Muffin, Noodle!  Come back here right now!”  This goes on the entire time we’re there.  Coats that were laid over the stroller were flung off several times, as the “Noodle” (who took command of the darn thing) almost ran into countless racks of clothing and a woman in a wheelchair.   The entire store knows my kids names now, as I called to both of them at least 25 million times during our visit.  I wish I could say that was all the *ahem* “fun” we had, but that was not all – oh no, that was not all.  At one point (like 10 minutes after we got in the door), the “Noodle” tells me he has to go to the bathroom.  Luckily, the store has one, so I take him.  I could not for the life of me get the “Muffin” back into the stroller (my attempt at containment), so I kneel down & look both kids directly in the eye and say “don’t touch ANYTHING.  OK?  Got it?  Just don’t touch”.  Well, I might as well have been speaking Martian, because the “Muffin” then walks right over to the metal handicap rail and touches it (you’d have thought her finger was a magnet) .  The “Noodle” has his pants around his ankles, telling me to hurry, so I just look over at her and reiterate the “no touching” rule, and lift him onto the “potty”.  The “Muffin” then decides to unroll as much toilet paper as she can.  I grab her and say “No!  I can’t believe it!  I said don’t touch!  I’m very unhappy right now!”.  I turn around to help the “Noodle” get off, and hear “Muffin!  NO! That’s MINE!”, and look over my shoulder just in time to see her throw the “Noodle’s” hat into the bathroom trashcan.  I try to calm the “Noodle” down & get him situated, while keeping the “Muffin” from grabbing anything else.  I then have to fish the hat out of the wet, gross trashcan, turn it inside out and stuff it in my purse -then wash everyone’s hands.  The “Noodle” is demanding his hat back.  I’m trying to explain to him why it needs to be washed, and he is on the verge of tears.  I scoot everyone out of the bathroom (finally), and the “Muffin” – or should I say “Little Beastie” – runs giggling off, and decides to play hide-and-go-seek in the dressing rooms.  I was NOT having it and tell her I’m leaving, only to get back “Bye Mama! Tee hee hee hee!”.  I did have to go back in to fetch her, as it turns out, because I really couldn’t leave her in a random dressing room, and she totally refused to surrender and come out.  At one point, she ran away from me, and I really didn’t go after her & she must have thought she was lost (don’t worry, I knew where she was & she was perfectly safe), because I see a woman directing her back over my way “there she is, honey”.  The “muffin” comes running over with trembling lips.  I (foolishly) thought she was cured from running away from me… but it only lasted about 3 minutes.  It took all of those 3 minutes to get her to try on a dress (it wasn’t her size, but looked like it would fit).  This was like trying to dress an electric eel.  No, really, between the static electricity zapping us both, and her going limp on the floor – twice – it truly was like dressing an eel (if an eel had arms).

Towards the end of our excursion, I thought I had finally found the perfect place where I could try on a sweater.  (And when I say “try on a sweater”, I mean it was a cardigan and all I had to do was unbutton the top button, take it off the hanger, and put it on over my shirt).  It was a far corner of the store and had a small “clearing”, if you will.  Little damage could be done here & I would literally have them – well, cornered.  Perfect, right?  Yeah, perfect until I noticed the emergency exit.  The “muffin” goes right for it.  I catch her in time & point to the sign.  The “Noodle” and I sound out the words “E-m-e-r-g-e-n-c-y  E-x-i-t.  Alarm will sound.”  He looks at me with the biggest eyes you’ve ever seen: “What will happen if we go out that door???”  I tell him that the alarm would go off, the police will come and the person who opened the door would get in big trouble.  I tell him that policemen don’t like false alarms.  I tell him that people who make alarms go off if there isn’t a BIG emergency get in BIG trouble.  He asks me if he’d have to go to jail.  I say maybe, and see out of the corner of my eye, a woman trying to hide her laughter behind her hand.  It worked, though.  The “Noodle” then stood guard by the door & foiled all of the “Muffin’s” attempts to open it – barely.

At the check-out counter, I apologize to the sales clerks.  They were very generous.  “No, really, they had us laughing!  -I mean, I know you were having a hard time – but they were just having so much fun!”  Then the customer at the next counter tells me “You’ll miss this when you get older.”  I think I smiled and said something like “maybe”… but I’m thinking no.  I’ll miss a lot of things, but this part?  Not so much.

(These are the adventures of Friday, Nov. 21 2008)

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