The downside of always planning out my day is that when things don’t go according to schedule, I don’t have much wiggle room to replan.
Last week I had it worked out to the minute; each week I have one slot of 2 hours during the day that it’s just baby and me and I can do whatever errands I need in a more efficient manner (than with the whole gang!).
So after a shopping trip to Smart & Final, figuring out precisely which containers/lids/trays/covers i needed for various upcoming events and making sure I got the right size for each container (not an easy feat!!) and stopping my not-such-a-baby baby from climbing out of the shopping cart a couple times, I was ready to pay and leave, and I was perfectly on schedule.
Until I reached into my handbag and discovered my wallet was not in there.
MY WALLET WAS NOT IN THERE!
I panicked, I froze, I worried, I rambled, I wracked my brains; did someone take it or did I leave it somewhere?
Of course my mind was blank, with my earliest memory being unloading the contents of my cart on to the belt.
I did the first thing all frazzled moms/wives do in a fix; I called my husband. Just as I expected, he did not know the whereabouts of my wallet. Why would he?
The kind guy at the register smiled sympathetically (don’t want to know what he was thinking of this poor mom) and promised me he’d hold the cart till I get back with my wallet. The items were packed, rung up and all.
Only hitch; home was 27 MINUTES AWAY!
And home I did go; hopped in the car, got to the house, jumped out, quick scan of the closet I keep my bag in and what do you know, no menacing guy had been following me and grabbed my wallet at an unnoticed moment; it was right there on the floor.
Hop back in the car, quick plan of action. Pickup rest of the kids. Go to Smart & Final. Park at the door. Put on my hazards while I run in, pay, load the car. Should take 2.5 minutes, especially if there’s no line. And hopefully I wouldn’t get a ticket. Well, I wasn’t really parking in the no park zone. My kids would be in the car, I would be right there, seeing them the whole time. Perfect plan.
Picked up everyone, got to the store, parked the car. So far so good. Run into the store; different guy at cashier.
“Sir, where’s my cart?”
“Yes, my cart full of stuff, it was right here and I told the guy I’d be back by 5 to pay.”
“Oh sorry Ma’am, we just put it all back.”
“We put it all back on the shelves.”
“Please tell me you’re joking, because that is not funny.”
“Sorry, ma’am, we put it all back.”
“You. Put. It. All. Back. ?!?!? Why???”
My head is splitting, I see the kids in the car shifting around, the guy is looking at me un-helpfully and I realized this was not gonna work.
Back to car, collapse in my seat, and 6 pairs of eyes on me, asking at the same time, “Where’s the stuff, what happened, why didn’t you get everything??”
Deep breath, Deep breath.
I turn to see all the little faces; adorable little faces I didn’t feel like leading into the store.
“They put it all back.”
“OK, so let’s go in and get it all, we’ll help you!”
“Yeah, we’ll help!”
“Me too, I’ll be a helper!”
“I’m being-hayve-ing,” chimed in my three year old.
Quick mental calculation; take them all in with me and get it all done, or try to find another time that doesn’t exist in the next few days to redo this trip.
“Ok guys, we can do it, but this is the plan.”
Bribe time. Any trick that works. Everyone gets a partner. Everyone would get a squeezy bottle of Orange Juice. No running. No touching. No screaming. Yes helping. And an extra special treat after for the helpers. And chips. And of course, everyone in the store will be so proud. And a quick lesson on everything happens for a reason and who knows why this happened; probably because someone needs to see these kids behaving so nicely.
“Yes, Yes, Yes!!” was the enthusiastic reply.
Park the car. Load the cart with as many kids as possible.
Pause, deep breath. Quick mental calculation; I needed to have realistic expectations.
They will not be perfect. They can’t be perfect. I know what it’s like in a big store. They will get distracted. They will touch things. They will ask me to buy things that I’m not planning to get. I will not lose it. I will stay calm. I will remind them what we’re shopping for. I can do it. It’ll be ok. It’ll be ok. IT’LL BE OK!
And as we walked in, the whole troop together, I caught site of the security video over the door. The kids all stopped to jump and make silly faces and watch themselves on the big screen.
I stopped too. Not to make silly faces; although it was tempting. But to see what we looked like. I don’t get to be the observer very often. As moms, we always get to be watched – stared at! (whether we like it or not!) but how often do we get to see what we really look like, what all the people are really seeing?
And I stood and watched. And made sure to smile. And smile until the stress signs weren’t visible; no, this did not have to be stressful. I looked at the cooky-cheerful kids in the video. What a happy crew! This was an adventure. I was not going to ruin it for them!
And we zipped through the store, me calling out directions, kids getting what we needed, me directing, them following (most of the time). Me replaying in my mind the scene on the big screen at the entrance, and them replaying the silly faces and cheerful hellos to all passerby-ers – only they were doing it live, replaying it for whoever missed seeing it on the screen.
They were being kids. And they were being-hayve-ing.