It was Saturday and we were at the Gap. Me, the kids and Nonie Denise (my mom).
I am not – thank God – a shopaholic by nature. I’m sure that if I were to win the lottery I’d immediately see the error of my ways up to this point, but that hasn’t happened yet.
The kids needed fall clothes and, for some reason, shopping for clothes makes me sweat. Literally. Why do they keep the store so hot? I get the chills in the refrigerated section of Trader Joe’s but at the Gap I’m suddenly aware of the function of my armpits.
“Luke, let’s try these pants on,” I said.
“No,” he said and dashed away.
At the same moment I saw Madeleine race over to the door. The Gap has those huge, heavy doors made entirely of glass so I didn’t think she’d be able to move them. Wrong. Before I reached her she had sandwiched herself behind one of the doors and when she tried to get out she ricocheted between the door and the wall of the vestibule.
Meanwhile, Luke decided there was no better idea than to screw around with the front window display. Crépe paper spheres hung delicately on transparent wires. If I didn’t interject, massacre would have been imminent.
“Get out of there!” I shouted. My voice sailed through the otherwise peaceful store, oblivious mothers here and there wheeling infant strollers and enjoying their cooing babies.
Madeleine followed her brother and began twirling and dancing in the window. I’m sure it looked sweet from the parking lot. If I saw a little girl and boy frolicking in a store window I’d think Oh how cute but I was convinced that the outwardly kind sales associate must have thought Hey lady, get a hold of your brats.
“Luke, you’ll get another sticker on your chart if you try these pants on. Come on, Buddy. Be a good listener.” We have a behavior chart on the fridge. It’s function is to reward Luke for being his delightful self, rather than not having a chart and scolding him ad nauseum when he’s his unbearable self.
Madeleine was slithering beneath all those low display tables they have at the Gap where they pile all the perfectly folded t-shirts in perfectly straight rows. Then we arrived. The perfection was no more.
I could see my daughter accumulate more and more dust bunnies on her shirt as she continued to slide around on the floor. If I hadn’t been so focused on clothing my son I’d have been cringing at what kind of germs were now all over her body. Don’t think the Hanta virus outbreak in Yellowstone didn’t cross my mind. It did.
All the while my mom was picking up sweaters and comparing the lengths of various pant legs. I would lose sight of her and then her fluffy head would bob up from behind a rack.
“Come on, Luke. Be a good sport,” she said, distantly.
It’s funny how grandmothers do that. They’ll offer verbal support while the child is being obstinate but clearly they’re off doing something else. To be a grandmother some day, won’t that be lovely? I can cuddle and squish the kids until they’re eyes bug out but when they’re even the tiniest bit obnoxious I can just float away and go on with my shopping and let my son or daughter worry about the bad behavior.
Now I was hotter than before and my TMJ was acting up since I’d eaten a panini for lunch and the bread was very chewy. Between the sweating and the soreness in my left temple I attempted to shove Luke into a pair of bright blue “skinny” jeans. He put one hand on my shoulder and the other on my head to balance himself. (Please enjoy the imagery of how totally disheveled my hair looked with Luke grabbing a clump of it.) When we finally got the pants on I saw that the effort had been in vane. With his shaggy hair cut and those tight jeans he reminded me of a Beatle. Paul, for sure.
Madeleine was now munching on a banana that my mom gave her from the snack bag. (Wherever we go, we bring snacks. Even to the grocery store. Otherwise I end up buying boxes of cookies or crackers that we already have 3 of in the pantry at home.)
“Madeleine, your turn. Look at this pretty purple shirt. Let’s try it,” I said.
“Ok,” she said. She loves trying on clothes.
The balancing act of a 2-year-old is more precarious than that of a 5-year-old.
Instantly, smooshed banana was against my neck and decollétage – if you can call it that. (The area where my cleavage is supposed to be looks more like it belongs to a tween than a 30-something woman. Oh, boobies…where did you run off to?)
Miracle of miracles, we ended up finding a few things that fit the kids and we left the store without tearing down any important decor. Madeleine did mix up a lot of the discount signs, though. (Dear Gap…Sorry about that.)
The whole experience made me think what a superb idea the internet is and what a great convenience online shopping is. It also left me thinking how lucky I am that my husband loves me – smooshed banana down my boobs and whatnot. At day’s end, I feel like a piece of paper that’s been crumpled up and then smoothed out again. From far way the paper looks like…well, paper. But up close it’s all crinkled. (Sigh.)