Why do you do this to me, Target? You know that I have Babyzilla in the front seat and two other crazed animals hanging off of either side of the cart. You know that I have a limited amount of time before the crew will mutiny and I will be left to steer the rudderless ship into the port of Checkout Lane 9 with a tight-lipped face and under the breath threats of old-fashioned discipline. Yet, here you are, tempting me with dollar deal bins bursting with shit that is not on my shopping list but now consumes my decision-making capacities before I’ve even reached the cereal aisle.
Should I get the lime green loofah or the cherry red one? Oooh, a wicker basket lined with pink checkered cloth—I’ve been looking for one of these to go….doesn’t matter, I need it. Look at all of these cute character socks…can’t have enough Ninja Turtle socks (Shhh, be quiet, of course you still like the Ninja Turtles). Chalkboards, and flash cards, and workbooks, oh my!! Can’t forget the cute little tin bucket to put all of your art supplies in. Wait, is that a….Halloween themed paddle ball…I shouldn’t, but it’s only a dollar.
Awesome, Target, thanks. I now have $27 worth of useless crap in my cart and I’ve wasted eight precious minutes of mild mannered behavior. And I haven’t even crossed a single item off of my list.
I now race with renewed fervor to the grocery section in an attempt to make up for lost time. I quickly spot many of the essential items and deposit them into my cart, only running into my kids’ ankles a few times (no blood, no tears, no stopping) and keeping the baby occupied with items from the dollar bin that can withstand being routinely thrown out of the cart (to her amusement) and picked up by me (to my chagrin). As I skid into the frozen food section to stock up on nutritious breakfast foods (read: waffles, and not the multi-grain kind), the inevitable happens—one of my kids has to go to the bathroom.
Now, tell me why some designer of big box stores hasn’t yet realized that bathrooms should be in the MIDDLE of the store and not in the front of the store? My kids don’t have to go to the bathroom when we first arrive and I announce, “Does anyone have to go to the bathroom before we start shopping—we’re right here, now’s your chance.” They only feel the urge when I’m stuck deep in the pasta aisle, pondering the merits of tomato and basil flavored sauce in comparison to the onion and garlic variety. This is a crucial decision, the very success of spaghetti night depends upon it, and my critical thinking skills cannot be interrupted by a dash back to the front of the store (where they keep the “distractors”).
Yes, I take them to the bathroom. But then it’s right back to the groceries—shield your faces kids, don’t look the seasonal snack cakes in the eyes!
I try to get right back on track, keep the momentum going. But it’s all over. I know it, and they know it. The mood has shifted and the natives are getting restless and it is obvious to all that the last half of our trip is going to be a pure test of will and nerve.
The beginning of the end always starts the same way….with the threat of danger. This last trip involved my two big kids deciding to hang off of the same side of the newly redesigned bulky plastic shopping carts. Public Service Announcement: although these carts ride smoother, they are not as sturdy and highly prone to tipping. Luckily the baby was strapped into the front and she enjoys the sensation of falling. After catching the cart with one hand and picking my heart up off of the floor with the other, my nerves were shot and it was time to call an audible. Only essentials. No more time for browsing. Apple sauce, turkey, hamburger meat, home. But what about yogurt? No time…takes too long to choose…a casualty of the shopping wars. Gone, but not forgotten.
As I round the last aisle into the sea of perishable items, I allow myself one full, satisfied breath. I am almost there. I steel my resolve and make one last-ditch effort, supermarket sweep style. I weave in and out of the produce in a way that only a desperate mother can, barely slowing down to select the perfectly ripened avocados. I have no patience for fresh cut romaine slightly moistened by the intermittent mist of the watering system; it’s a bagged lettuce kind of day and E.coli is a risk I’m willing to take.
And now the only thing between the sweet sound of the barcode scanner and me are four little aisles that hold the seasonal items. These unassuming metal structures offer an ever-changing labyrinth of temptation for even the most hardened of souls. Is it Easter time? Here are 25 varieties of chocolate bunnies, every flavor of jellybean known to man, cute fuzzy baskets made out of Elmo’s head, and cookie cutters in the shape of Easter eggs. Oh, it’s Fall in your neck of the woods? Then you must peruse our collection of pilgrim figurines (plastic and porcelain) and our pumpkin flavored everything. Don’t even get me started on Christmas. I blame you, Target, for my family’s Elf on the Shelf (and the “required” companion DVD and matching Elf pajamas).
I make it past the "Aisles of Doom" (this time) and spot a free lane at the exact same moment that my brain is hit by a sinking realization: I forgot the diapers. I actually hold a ten second internal debate in which I question if I really need to go back and grab a box or if I have enough at home to last me until I can send my husband back out to the local grocery store tonight to pick up my slack. I come to the conclusion that I must turn around and go back. This decision is solely based on the fact that the baby is currently wearing the last of my supply: a swim diaper.
Diapers securely stowed, we make our way back to the last 50 yards of tiled floor space that, by now, covers my own personal version of Hell. At this point the baby is standing unbuckled in the front part of the cart (as opposed to sitting calmly with her legs through the holes) and yelling, “Bop!” at each person who dares to pass by. The two big kids think she is yelling, “Butt,” a situation meriting uproarious laughter every time that she utters the mistaken word (which is now more frequent due to their reactions). As I swing in to a free lane, I attempt to fish my phone out of my purse to retrieve my digital coupons while holding a baby that is now furiously bent on breaking free. I bark at my other minions to load the items on to the belt. I no longer care if a random “play pack” of Legos, a miniature ballet Barbie, or some other waste of money item gets thrown on the belt along with the groceries. This is their golden opportunity to exploit my lack of attention as my eyes are diverted to the screen (did that just ring up as full price?) and my hands are filled with a wriggling fourteen month old and an ever-increasing pile of plastic bags. But why am I telling you this, Target? You know exactly where to put those pocket-book emptying trinkets.
No trip to this Seductive Temptress of a store would be complete without a Grand Finale. One last incident to make me question my intelligence and lose a little more of my sanity. Usually it involves one of my “helpers” placing the bag holding the eggs a little too forcefully into the cart. Or a race to the refreshment stand that turns into a flashback from American Gladiators. This time it involved the one kid who didn’t take a bathroom break, a swim diaper that isn’t intended to hold much, and a shirt that needed to be retired anyway. And it all took place while I was holding the perpetrator and swiping my credit card. At least she waited until the end of the trip—when she had a fresh supply of new diapers.
Target, if it weren’t for that adorable purple tutu hanging up in your toddler section or the array of cute (yet affordable) flannel shirts for boys, I would probably never come back. Oh, and your comfy and stylish spandex running pants….if I didn’t like those so much I would ditch you forever. And the cardigans in every color? Ugh! Wait…what’s that? The in-store Starbucks will be offering pumpkin spiced lattes soon? Oh, Target, you’re such a charmer—see you next week. XOXOXO