I don’t know if I wish I would’ve had my camera or not. In the moment I might have gone a little Russell Crowe on the situation, so perhaps not having it was a good thing. Then again, right now, as I type, I’m feeling like an LA paparazzi member thinking, oooh—if only I had gotten that shot. Shameful, I know.
My mission this morning was simple: head to the mall for jeans.
Ok, ladies–I can hear you now: “SIMPLE?! Jeans-shopping with kids?!” Well, I knew exactly the brand I was looking for, I knew that my local mall-carrier had then on sale and I had a coupon [chi-ching], so all that was left to do was find my size in the pile. Should be nearly effortless. As long as there was a changing room large enough to accommodate my huge yet stylish mom handbag, three children, and piles of jeans, I thought we’d be set.
However, as any mall-going mom will tell you, you have to set the tone early with your expectations. Therefore, we went in with clearly articulated rules:
#1. If you can behave yourself during the jeans-shopping portion of the morning, you will get to play in the mall play-topia.
This was met with shouts of joy and personal accolades. Great. On to #2.
#2. If you can behave yourself during the jeans-shopping portion of the morning AND a brief trip to Costco, you’ll get the play-topia AND a movie on the way home, courtesy of our sweet new van 🙂
This was met with shouts of joy, personal accolades, and a parade in my honor. Splendid. I’m the greatest mom ever. On to #3.
#3. If you CANNOT pull it together long enough for me to find some booty-shakin’ jeans and/or find sanctuary in the beauty that is Costco, your rewards will be taken away one by one. Poof and poof.
Can you guess what happened?
The scattering of brownie crumbs on the kitchen floor this morning should have tipped me off. Some might call it a reality check, others, a foreshadowing. The feet scuffing and door banging in the mall restrooms might have been another hint. [M had to pee the exact moment I touched my first piece of merchandise at the mall. Thee very instant–“Mom! I have to pee!” Love that.] Locking me out of my changing room was another ominous cloud in the skyline of our day [they lost the play-topia for that maneuver].
But you’d think that after losing the first reward and seeing the quiet, yet seething dragon lady emerge–they’d get a grip. Maybe a light bulb would illuminate their dark little worlds. A bright flash of realization that things could get ugly if they didn’t change their behavior. If they wanted to mess up their day–fine with me. Strip away my kindness! Force my hand! I’m ready to play.
Being the trooper that I am, I forged ahead, undaunted, armed with consequences and the balls to follow through. If Sacajawea could walk through the Rockies in the winter–wearing moccasins with her infant child strapped to her back–I could get through the mall, doggone-it!
But it was really the wrestling that got my goat.
The last straw.
My camel’s back? Broken. Brokeback Camel.
I stood at the cash register asking for a price check on a lovely fall jacket designed, I’m sure, by Tim Gunn [it was Liz Claiborne]. I had a few coupons left and thought maybe I could swing an extra purchase if there weren’t too many zeroes.
The boys started getting crazy, so I instructed them calmly and authoritatively to sit on the floor next to me, in front of a display of shirts.
While I stood trying to do mental math on my discounts, I turned my head just ever-so-slightly enough to notice them writhing on the floor, locked together in some sort of wrestling move.
M was laying down on his back with his 7 year old brother J on top of his face. J’s head was facing M’s feet and was now migrating down to M’s stomach while he yelled, “Stop it! Stop it!” M had his little paws clutched around J’s neck–a surprising feat for a 3 year old, but with this kid, it’s no surprise.
“Get up!” I hissed. “We are leaving. You just lost your movie and if you can’t get your act together, your bikes will be gone for the rest of the DAY when we get home!” The yellow-sweater clad grandmas behind me gave me the “loser mom” stare and I was cooked.
I marched ahead of them, leaving a waft of smoke in my trail. My poor daughter, who really did do a great job [thanks, A!], trotted a step behind me trying to point out how she successfully evaded trouble.
Now I know some people get into this–martial arts and whatever. I even know some closet cage-fighting fans. But you heard it here first:
Mall wrestling is not fun for moms.