A Trip To Target Reminded Me How Much I Have In Common With Our Primate Ancestors

by Kelly Coon
Mike Mozart / Flickr / Creative Commons

I have three little boys. Well, the one isn’t quite so little anymore. He’s 9, skinny as a cornstalk, and almost as tall as I am. I can slip my feet into his flip-flops to go out to get the mail. Cornstalk is definitely growing up.

You’d think that would be a deterrent to the primate antics at Target, but apparently all three of my sons see that crimson sign and think, Let’s all try our darndest to make mom’s head explode off her shoulders and ricochet around the clearance section.

They’re winning.

I took the three of them to Target after school today in an “I absolutely can’t put this off any longer” shopping expedition. I needed Christmas shirts for Cornstalk and the second-grader (the middle child). I needed toilet paper, a roll of paper towels, some hand soap.

That’s it.

How long do you think this trip took? Thirty minutes, tops?

Wrongo, lady. Wrong.

One hour and 20 minutes later, we exited. The middle child was wearing a Santa hat I’d apparently paid for, and my 3-year-old was lying on his belly on the bottom rack of the shopping cart, dragging his hands between my splayed legs as I walked cowgirl style out those automatic doors.

We began our shopping trip by browsing through the boys section looking for shirts. Let me rephrase that: We began our shopping trip by me chasing the toddler down the aisle because he wouldn’t listen to my hissed, “Get back here. Get BACK here! GET BACK HERE!” Why was he running, you ask? Well, he was chasing the middle sibling, of course, who thought midday at Target was the perfect time to see how fast he could gallop.

And what sort of mother am I to allow her toddler out of the cart? Welp, I’m the kind of mother who is over and done with the whining, over and done. He wanted out of the cart (I had him in the cart, I swear), and I caved. I did, however, threaten his iPad, his free cookie (a curse on Target bakery for offering it, and a curse on my husband for discovering it), and his very life if he didn’t walk nicely beside me while we shopped.

He didn’t walk nicely beside me while we shopped.

Yes, he’s alive, but am I? The jury’s still out on that one. I think I’m wandering around in some sort of half-cocked, quasi-reality with one hand clasped around a wine glass and the other trying to keep clothes on my children so they don’t run naked into the streets like the animals they are.

But, I digress.

Cornstalk took it upon himself to reprimand the younger two for their antics, and although I appreciated the offer of help, it wasn’t really effective. There’s just something, oh, I don’t know…awkward about your fourth-grader yelling, “You’re both going to be stolen and sold into slavery!” across six aisles of startled Target shoppers. Yes, I’ve warned him of the danger of this sort of thing happening, and yes, those two were so far away at that point I could barely see them, but no, that kind of language isn’t helpful and may cause concerned mothers to speed dial Child Protective Services on their smartphones.

It all got worse from there. The toddler snagged a bottle of Febreze off a shelf, insisting he needed it, and threw it in the cart every time my back was turned. Then the other two got into such a nasty fight over who got to load the stuff onto the conveyor belt in the checkout line that I considered tying both of them up and shoving them in a freezer with the organic string beans.

The whole trip reminded me of the time I watched a mother orangutan calmly nurse her baby at the zoo while watching her other offspring shred a head of romaine lettuce and throw it around in the air. She backhanded him, sending him cartwheeling down an embankment. After this trip, I could totally relate.

Personally, I blame the cough syrup.

My middle child had been on the sauce for two days when this trip occurred, and I’m certain that Cornstalk had been dipping into it too. I get it. It tastes good(ish), and there’s something magical about suddenly being able to breathe after weeks of coughing up phlegm balls like a lifetime smoker.

Lesson learned.

But, really, what can you do? Shopping must be done. And children must not be left in hot cars. I suppose I could start purchasing all of my stuff online, but who am I kidding, that would take actual planning. No, I’m stuck. Maybe next time, though, I’ll wean them off the Robitussin before we go.

Or maybe I’ll just start drinking it myself and join the zoo.