Sometimes survival takes on a new perspective. Survival doesn’t always need to refer to safely escaping dire situations. Maybe it is appropriate to feel like a survivor every time you walk out the doors of a Wal-Mart Supercenter, kids in tow.
Going to Wal-Mart with children is about as much fun as a paper cut. Walking through the front doors is the only peaceful part of the journey. You grab a basket, speak to the door greeter - unless that day’s “greeter” happens to be one of those cantankerous old farts who doesn’t greet at all - and take off. Before you take a third step through the foyer area at the front of the store comes the inevitable question, “Can we go to the toys? Can we? Huh? Momma, can we? Please?!” As I suspect most moms do, I answer, “If you are good while we are in here.” As if holding the toy section hostage/using it as a bribery tactic is enough to make small children morph into better behaved versions of themselves. However, wishful thinking isn’t a crime. Less than 5 minutes later, it begins... “Have we been good? Is it time to go to the toys? Momma, are you listening? Can we go over there now?” My response: “Seriously, kids? I just started shopping. Can you PLEASE be patient?”
We move on.
After the outburst, they are just frightened enough not to argue about it...at the moment. Although I AM able to get a little more shopping accomplished, it is not done without a moderate amount of under-the-breath whining. I try to block it out. But really, who can completely block that out? Still, I go on with my shopping, appearing to ignore the depressive states of a 7 and a 4 year old. Appearing to ignore the whispery reciting of the word please...over and over...and over...and over. At this point, they are soooooooo impatient that they begin arguing with each other, walking slower, getting in front of the cart, lagging way behind, anything else that makes life just a tad more difficult. This is where I start responding. A little with looks, a little with words, clearly exhibiting frustration in both cases. Children are smart. They know when they are pushing the limit. But they do it anyway. WHY?! Eventually, emotions running high, I run over a heel. Yes, a heel of a foot. Ohhhhh my gosh the world comes to an end. You know when you are in a public place and you hear a child throwing a fit and think to yourself, “wow, that child needs some discipline!” Well that’s my child after I clip a heel with the cart. And so begins the first ‘come-to-Jesus’ meeting of the shopping trip. Life gets just a little better for a few minutes. Then the arguing starts back up. Now I have to put on my peacemaker hat. Reasoning with them at this point is futile. Therefore, the temporary solution is putting one child in front of the cart, one behind me. A whole new set of problems! The heels, the lagging, ugh! All of this continues.
On my most recent trip, in the time spent getting from one side of the store to the other I lost every ounce of patience I began with. I stopped the cart, squatted down to get in their ears and proceeded to tell them what was on my mind. I stood up, looked at them both very seriously and my 4 year old responded, “I think I’m scared.” Mission accomplished! It was the turning point. The rest of the trip was peaceful. Partly because of our last talk, partly because the rest of the trip was only about 5 minutes so they didn’t really have time to get wound up again.
This trip's outcome: no toy section! Result: crocodile tears. Wal-Mart, the devil’s stomping grounds. Why must this place be so stressful. But at the end of the day, it's survival of the fittest. And somehow, we always survive. Even though occasionally, surviving means driving through for ice cream in order to make the crying stop.