Once upon a time, when my only child was just 20-months old or so, I was strolling the aisles of Target. My sweet little shopping buddy sat happily in the cart looking at what I pointed out, smiling at the toys I held up for him to explore, and munching on his snack while I browsed the clothing and home decor sections at my leisure.
Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed--because it was impossible not to--the most frazzled, harried-looking woman I had ever seen. She was practically yelling, "No running! Jackson, stop! Come back to Mommy!" as she, get this: CHASED HER TODDLER DOWN AN AISLE.
"Tsk. Tsk." I thought smugly....naively...judgementally. "Who would allow their child to act like that in a store?"
And then I looked back down to my Evan, who was still sitting happily, and looking up at me with those Melt You big brown eyes with a look that said, "Who would ever act like that in a store?" And I felt totally confident in my parenting ability.
And then there was Max.
Holy. Cow. You guys--I was that mom in Target yesterday.
The trip started out pretty well....I, smartly, began with a stop at the concession counter and bought a lemonade bribe...I mean, treat. The boys sat strapped into that giant train-sized cart with the two seats attached to the back, happily sipping on their "moh-nade." But I needed about a dozen things, which, in my experience in Target, really means about thirty things. We were halfway through when we needed to breeze past the toy aisle. No problem. I can handle the toy aisle. Each kid gets to pick one aisle, we spend a minute or two in each, and we're back on our way.
He started to get pretty restless around the diaper aisle. "Mommy! I WALK! I ALL DONE with MOH-NADE!" I tried to distract him with the shows on the TVs in the DVD aisle across the way, but Charlie Brown was on and he was totally uninterested. I thought maybe I could keep him occupied by holding onto something from the cart. He threw the bag of pretzels on the floor. I'm not sure why, but I decided to then hand him the shampoo. He threw that, too, and it rolled down the aisle. So I left the cart and ran after it. Of course I did.
That's when I could feel the judgement coming. Not from other Moms....they, all smarter than the me from Once Upon A Time, weren't judging. They were all probably thinking, "I've been there," or "That could so be me someday," or maybe at the very least, "I have compassion for that woman who has her hands very full with that one." Nope, the judgement came, instead, from my first-born, who was giving me the look that said, "Sigh. She really doesn't have a handle on the situation, does she?" Meanwhile, Max is yelling louder, quite convinced that I am not comprehending his commands of "I get DOWN!" and "I WALK NOW, MOMMY!"
But I still needed facial moisturizer (because I buy all of my cosmetics at Target, what?), toothpaste, and dish soap. And I was getting desperate. He's now squirmed his arms out of his 5-point harness and is shimmying his leg up to his chest beneath the strap. Evan is shaking his head in disdain.
So that's when I made the wrong decision. Right decision? Leave the store. Forget the necessities. Go back out after Daddy gets home for some uninterrupted solo-shopping time. Buy a fancy (decaf) coffee on the way and bask in the luxury of Alone Time. Instead, I unstrap the beast. I try to hoist him onto my hip, which of course doesn't work. He flails his body head-first towards the floor while screaming, "I WALK! I WALK! I WALK!" I manage to catch him before impact and put him down right side up. By now I'm sweating. And yet I'm still heading towards the damn lotion aisle.
I am able to convince him to Give Evan a Ride! and he's "helping" me push the cart. I grab the first lotion I see that has the red sale tag below it and we're on to toothpaste. Evan is telling Max to "Push faster!" which is fine because, despite the increasing speed and volume of our party, the Little Beast is still, loosely, tethered to the cart. I don't even pause as I grab a toothpaste off the shelf and we have but one item on our list.
And that's when Max decides that he's Done Shopping. He made it quite clear. He let go of the cart, looked up at me defiantly as he said, "I all done." And then he took off. He may not be even two years old. He may be built more like a brick than a gazelle. But damn. That kid is fast.
And, suddenly, I was That Mom, chasing the child down the main aisle of Target, calling, "Max! Walk Max! Walking feet! Back to Mommy!" Holy embarrassment.
And all the while, Evan sat, happily strapped into the cart, sipping his lemonade and shaking his head at the spectacle of it all.
Well, we headed straight from Target to the library and experienced even less Public Behavior Success, so, apparently, nothing yet.