I think it’s the lighting in Wal-Mart. Those lights make us crazy.
It must be the lights. I cannot imagine what else would make my sweet children behave that way. Or what else would make me growl threats through teeth gritted in a fake smile.
Tonight I took my four older children to Wal-Mart to pick up a few things after a soccer game. The boys (ages 4 1/2 and 6-tomorrow) were supposed to ride in those cool seats added to the cart. You know those extra-long carts I’m talking about? My boys don’t seem nearly as impressed with them as I am. Actually, my boys think it’s great fun to climb on the seats, perch on the edge, and jump off the cart while I’m pushing it down an aisle. Not that I allow them to behave that way. They just enjoy the challenge. Must be the effects of those super flourescent lights.
While the boys are climbing around the seats and I’m race-walking through the aisles so we can get home before 8:00, my older daughter, Lauren, (nearly-9) is loudly calling out the items on the list she made for me in the car. And pointing out other interesting things she notices and thinks we ought to purchase. And meticulously naming all the differences between our Wal-Mart and Grandmama’s Wal-Mart. And telling me that her brothers aren’t staying fastened in the seat. As if I don’t see them scaling the front of the cart. As if I’m not already whispering through gritted teeth, “I am telling your father about this when we get home.”
And while my older son, Caleb, is jumping over the side of the cart to peer at the ready-to-bake brownies Lauren is announcing would be perfect for his birthday, (nevermind that I made brownies today and am baking the cake he wants tomorrow) Silas, my 4 year-old, is fastening himself into Caleb’s seat with an evil laugh.
All the while, little 7 year-old Rachel is compulsively twirling around in circles. “It’s no fun when twirling in circles is one of my tics.” She shouts mid-twirl.
“At least you’re not turning cartwheels down the aisles,” I smile. We know a little girl with Tourette Syndrome who would come home from school and turn cartwheels non-stop.
Rachel doesn’t appreciate my cheerful response. “I don’t even know how to turn a cartwheel.” She grumps. Then she goes back to twirling perfect little circles down the aisle, staying right beside the cart.
Moments later, as we head toward the bread aisle, Rachel calls out as she spins around, “People are going to think I’m crazy spinning in circles like this.” Her long hair flowing out in a wild static-y arc as we pass the cereal aisle.
“Or maybe they’ll just think you’re a cute little girl with a lot of energy.” I laugh as I nudge Silas back into his place and block Caleb’s exit from the cart with my right knee.
On the ice cream aisle, Lauren, Rachel, and Silas try to convince Caleb to choose bubblegum ice cream instead of those little multi-colored sherbet cups that look like . . . well, that don’t look so appetizing when the children stir them up. “Bub-ble-gum! Bub-ble-gum! Bub-ble-gum!” They chant at an embarrassing decible. Caleb pounds the end of the wrapping paper tube against the hard plastic seat to accentuate their chants. Then he laughs and chooses the sherbet anyway. It’s his birthday, he reminds them, he can choose whatever he wants. Maybe he will choose bubblegum ice cream next year.
As we pass the bakery, my cell phone rings, Rachel spins, Silas tries to climb out of the cart to see the freezer pops Lauren holds up to show everyone in that quarter of the store, and Caleb begins to shout “I don’t want a cake after all. Look at that!” I don’t even pay attention to what dessert has attracted his attention. I gently push him back into the cart, answer my cell phone, hold my arm up to block Silas from climbing over the edge, shake my head at Lauren’s insistance that we buy those freezer pops, and try to pretend I don’t see that older gentleman glaring at me as if I’m the worst mother he’s seen all year.
As it turned out, I didn’t even get a couple things on the list because I had to get us out of that store as quickly as possible. We did manage to get through the check-out aisle without anyone grabbing candy or gum and without anyone sounding out any words on a tabloid magazine. Phew! Minor consolation to the shopping trip from . . . well, you know.
Now I know why I usually do my shopping late at night, alone, after the children are in bed.