I know I have mentioned that I love summer. I love the carefree days where I get to choose the schedule, or choose to not have a schedule.
But the start of school is coming. Last night we had the first of two back to school nights. It makes me cry.
But, there is one silver lining. The start of school means I don't have to take them to the store anymore.
I really, really hate shopping with six children.
I would rather wrestle a dead pig out of a waterer than take six children to a store. Any store.
Let's take a look at shoe shopping, which I've done two times now in the last month, once for running shoes, once for soccer cleats. This is how it went:
While we are still in the van, I gave the children my usual run-down of what is expected of them. A picture of how I want this to all go down, so to say.
"OK, we're going into Dick's to buy cleats and only cleats. Don't be looking around, getting all sorts of fancy ideas of what other things you think you need. We will shop for two kids at a time. Since Buttercup and Phoenix are in adult sizes, we will shop for theirs together. While I am shopping for Buttercup and Phoenix, Star and Giant will sit very calmly and quietly with Turken and Cuckoo in a spot that I designate. You will each have X amount of dollars to spend on your shoes. If the shoes you really like are more than that, you will have to pay for the difference. Yes, Phoenix gets a higher allowance, as his ginormous feet are more expensive to cover. Buttercup will have a larger allowance than Giant and Star, as adult shoes are more expensive than the kids' shoes. Once Buttercup and Phoenix have their shoes, they will take their turn sitting with Turken and Cuckoo while Star and Giant find their shoes." Notice how detailed and organized I am? Everything should go swimmingly.
We get into the store, and the kids do a great job of not getting distracted. Straight to the shoes we go. I put the youngest four on their two benches, then send the oldest to their respective shoe aisles.
Let the games begin!
First, the men's shoes are eight aisles away from the women's shoes, so I am in a constant run, going back and forth between the two, stopping only to talk to the little ones. First pass, I see the boys are sitting nicely, so I throw out a, "You boys are doing great!" I check on Phoenix, who must have the brightest shoes on the planet, and see that he is in fact trying on some cleats. Size 12. They don't fit, and they don't have a bigger size. I tell him to keep looking and head over to Buttercup. I find her, sitting in the middle of a mess of shoes, practically crying because all cleats, "are made too skinny and I can't fit my fat feet into any." Mind you, there is nothing fat about this child, most certainly not her feet. We have a little therapy session, in which I explain to her he evil ways of women's shoe and clothing makers, and help her put all of the shoes back where they go. I suggest she try a different brand, and head back to Phoenix. On my way, I see that Cuckoo is not in his seat, Giant is trying to corral him, and it's not working. I snag Cuckoo, plunk him back in his seat, give him a little chat, briefly tell Star and Turken that they need to calm down their little game of tickle they have going on their bench, and move on back to Phoenix. Phoenix has managed to find shoes he loves, that fit (size 13!), but of course are the only shoes that don't have a price on them or anywhere near them. We must track down a salesperson, and once we do, that salesperson seems to have misplaced his price gun. I watch the guy wander away, and leave Phoenix to wait for him. Back to Buttercup, and I see that in their little game, Turken has managed to knock down a big stack of shoes that had been towering next to him. We pick up the boxes, I give them a little, "this wouldn't happen if you were sitting quietly like I asked, I'm almost done with these two, so sit tight and be patient," chat. The kind where I'm smiling so no one around notices that I'm really yelling at them for misbehaving. Yep, just having a nice little conversation with my boys. I am in no way threatening them with lunchless afternoons spent in their rooms. Oh look, there's Cuckoo, doing a little dance in the aisle. Since he wasn't actually running anywhere, and Giant was still in his seat, I let them be. Buttercup is doing much better and the tears have gone away. She is unhappy, though, with my price limit. (See, cleats are odd. The company will make cleats that look identical, but are made differently. So there will be a $50 version and a $100 version of shoes that look exactly the same.) She has found some she loves, but they are out of her size in the $50 version. She wants the $100 ones. Ain't gonna happen, my friend. I then help a surly preteen try to find shoes that, "aren't my favorite but I guess I can wear them." In our search I see the salesperson still wandering around with Phoenix's shoes. Oi. As Buttercup is trying on her cleats, I hear some screaming. I know that scream. I rush over to Cuckoo and see that Giant has him in a makeshift headlock. Apparently the dancing turned into running, and Giant was making him stop. "Um, thanks Giant, but how 'bout we do that a bit differently?" Get that situation resolved, head over to Phoenix, and find that the shoes are in fact in his price range. Score! One down, three to go.
I drag him over to the benches, where I see that the tower of shoes has once again been knocked over. I swear under my breath at the morons who would stack shoes 10 high next to the bench at the end of the kids' aisle as I clean up the shoes. This time, instead of recreating the tower, I stack them two high and make a little wall next to the shelf. I instruct Phoenix to sit with Turken, Star to start looking for shoes, and finish up with Buttercup. She is mostly happy with her shoes, so SCORE! Halfway to home.
I instruct her to entertain Cuckoo and get Giant moving through the aisle. I find Star wandering aimlessly through the aisles, not exactly sure where he should go. The kids' shoes are scattered a bit, so I show them both what the choices are. It is actually quite humorous to see the differences in these two when choosing shoes. Star's method is to find shoes he likes, then grab a pair from the shelf. Size and fit are meaningless. Close enough is all the kid is going for. I have to be on him like white on rice in order to prevent him from getting shoes that are too big or too small.
Giant, on the other hand, is meticulous. It takes him an eternity and a day to make any decision. All variables must be noted, analyzed, and beaten to death. I leave him with instructions to hurry the heck up, as Turken and Cuckoo are going to lose their minds.
As I go to find Giant to make sure he actually tries the shoes on, I see that the other four are not on their benches. I huff and run around to find them. Phoenix is looking at soccer accessories while Turken is running laps on their "lap" through the shoes and out into the aisle. "Um, Phoenix, how exactly is this staying in your seat and keeping him entertained?" I return them to their seats, then find Buttercup, who is going up and down the aisles with Cuckoo. "Um, Buttercup, what are we doing?"
"He won't sit still. I tried to do a game with him, but he didn't want to, and he started to dance and be crazy, and I know that isn't good, so we're looking at shoes to keep him busy."
I approve her tactics, give her boundaries of which aisles to peruse, then head back to the shoe-buyers. Giant, of course, thinks that he is done. I make him put the shoes on, find that they are, in fact, too small and have him find a larger pair. I find Star, and he is still on the, "which shoes do I like?" step. For the love, child, just pick a pair of shoes!!!!
One hour after parking the car, we finally head to the check-out line. I'm sweaty, the littlest are whiny, and halfway to check-out, I realize that one of the kids forgot to pick up the new shoes. We wait while he runs back to grab them. Totally unfortunate. It gives the others a chance to stop and see what all is available in the grand store of all things sport. Their eyes roam all around, while shouts of, "Mom! Mom! Mom!" begin.
Anyone with kids knows the "Mom!" chant. The child wants to tell you something, and will say, "Mom! Mom! Mom!" over and over again until you acknowledge him. Frequently, a child will not even breathe between "Mom!s" to give you the chance to acknowledge him. Now multiply this by six, because once the child gets his shoes and comes back to me, it won't get better. The check-out lane is nothing but a whole mess of stuff my kids want to point out to me. They are sly little buggers. They don't ask for things, but they point them out, hoping I will find at least one of the items to be the coolest thing ever, and decide that we MUST have that item. Times six.
Except the one lone child who isn't looking at the items for sale, but is watching TV on the wall. Turken is obsessed with the Olympics, and of course the store has them on the TV. He is hollering at me to look every time a team scores, or to tell him which team is ours, or to ask why a player is doing what he is doing.
This is where I will get most of the comments about our large family. Inevitably, someone will say, "My, you have your hands full!" Or, "Only one girl? Poor thing." Or "Is this a school field trip to the store?" Yup, yup, and well that's just lame.
Finally, finally, it is our turn to check-out. He rings it up, and I begin the song and dance about which coupons I can use together, as Dick's has coupons of every sort distributed everywhere. The guy looks at me and sees the disheveled mess I have become. He sees that I have actually taken the time to do my hair and put on something besides old shorts and a t-shirt before I left the house. I have fashionable shoes on, even. But the children have taken their toll. My hair has gone all catty-wompus and frizzy, thanks in part to the sweat. Mostly from the children grabbing my head as I helped them put on/tie/check their shoes. My shirt is a bit crooked, and the arm-pit stains reveal that no deodorant can tackle this job. He sees all of this, and says, "I just took 20% off."
Thank you and bless you, child. Because he really was a child, and he didn't really pay attention to what I looked like. He just saw the pile of coupons I threw on the counter and wanted to get rid of me with the least amount of hassle.
Whatever. I got one heck of a discount.
We grab the shoes and head to the door. I think I'm in the clear. All I have left to do is get the crew to the car without getting run over. But alas, I forgot. The obsession.
As we walk away from the counter, Turken starts to scream, "But I'm watching the Olympics! The game isn't over!" Then he starts chanting, and I'm not even kidding or exaggerating to make the story better, "U.S.A! U.S.A!" Cuckoo hears this and joins in.
Those who weren't already staring at the crazy woman with the six kids now turn to watch the show of patriotism on display right there in the check-out line. Not a chance of me getting out of there now.
My shoulders collapse, and I resign myself to my fate. I tell Turken that he can watch the game until one more point is scored.
Finally, finally, finally, finally, they score. We leave without any more drama, make it through the parking lot unscathed, and head home.
To the sounds of children thanking me and applauding me for taking them to get their new shoes.
OK, not really. I did get a thanks or two, but mostly I got, "I'm hungry. What are we having for lunch?"
So, yes I am so terribly sad to send the kids off to school.
But I am thrilled to bits to finally get some shopping done. I have put off all sorts of shopping trips to avoid taking the children. I didn't buy paint for the hall project. I didn't buy beds for the big boys who are moving out of their bunk beds. I didn't do the smart, large grocery shopping trips, but instead did the "We're running in to grab a few things," method of buying food. Because if you think shoe shopping is bad, grocery shopping is so much worse.
Let's just say that metal grocery carts, energetic boys, temptations as far as the eyes can see, and hundreds of grandmas are not a good combination.
We're heading to the Indiana State Fair today, because summer ain't over yet. We still have a few items on our summer to-do list, so we need to get cracking.
Have a lovely day!