You’d think I would have learned after the dreadful grocery trip, but no. I went on a Wal-Mart excursion the very next day. I only needed one thing—laundry detergent—so really, I could have had the hubster pick that up on his way home from work. Or I could have gone after the kids were in bed that night. Or we could have worn dirty clothes. Anything would have been better than what I chose to do, which was drag the kids along.
To make it more interesting for them, I decided to work a couple of fun little extras into our trip. One was letting Andy bring the money he had been saving up from his good behavior incentives to spend on the toy aisle, and the other was letting both boys get haircuts in the Wal-Mart salon. In theory, these ideas sounded great. I could imagine the big smiles from my freshly groomed sons, dressed in sparkling clean clothes, showing off their new purchases to Dad when he got home whilst telling him how lucky they were to have such a fun mama.
Here’s what really happened:
Everybody and their sister was at Wal-Mart vying over the dwindling school supplies, so the parking lot was jam packed. That meant that we had to park way out by the Garden Center. Now, if you’re going to ignore my advice to never shop with children at all, at least heed this: Do not ever park near the Garden Center when you’re shopping with children. You'll see why later.
Since we had to pass the toy section on the way to the salon, we opted to take care of Andy’s “prize” first. We had counted his money prior to leaving the house, so we knew he had $2 and some change to spend. I just assumed I’d lead him to the little dollar section and he’d pick some random piece of junk he couldn’t live without. After all, he managed to find hundreds of treasures to beg for in that very section every time we came shopping. But not this time. This time, he already knew exactly what he wanted to spend his $2 on. He wanted a remote control airplane.
I tried to explain to him that $2 was not enough to purchase a remote control airplane, but he refused to believe me. Even after I showed him multiple remote control toys—all with $20+ price tags—he still insisted we keep looking. Down every aisle. Twice. Just in case.
I told him that he could save his money until he had enough, or he could opt for a cheaper toy. He told me I could just pay the difference.
Our super-fun, celebratory toy-shopping experience ended as a dismal failure.
We headed to Health and Beauty next—not on the list, but seeing the sign made me think it’d be a good idea to go ahead and preemptively purchase some items we were getting low on. Finnick insisted on holding everything. And opening them. And then crying over when they were taken away. Because, really, isn’t losing a bottle of deodorant and a tube of toothpaste a tragedy?
But no worries—we still had haircuts to brighten everyone’s mood!
Andy had been asking for a haircut for a month. Pretty much as soon as we walked out of the salon the last time. It has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that he enjoys getting his haircut and absolutely everything to do with the fact that he gets gum every time he makes it through a haircut without a meltdown. But his hair—and Finnick’s—had finally gotten to the point where it was over his ears, so gum-earning time had arrived!
Our usual girl wasn’t in, but the two who were working said they’d each take one kid so we could get out in half the time. What luck! So Andy and Finnick both went into a chair with me in the middle, trying to monitor both at once.
Finnick had only had one haircut previously, so he is still a little apprehensive about the whole hair-cutting process. For comfort, he was sucking the life out of his pacifier. Unfortunately, every time he shied away from the clippers, he would open his mouth in surprise and it would fall out, right into all the hair. Because I was so busy trying to clean that pacifier so Finnick wouldn’t have a nervous breakdown in the chair, I couldn’t pay quite as much attention to Andy. I wasn’t too worried because he was doing great, trying to earn that gum. But then I saw the finished product, and I immediately realized I had been focusing on the wrong child.
Have you seen the movie Dumb and Dumber? Me either. But I’ve seen the front cover of the DVD. And Andy’s haircut greatly resembled that of Jim Carey’s character in that show. Of course, I told him how fantastic he looked, but inwardly I was horrified that I had to pay money for that monstrosity of a haircut. But I did, and off we went to get his gum.
Since Finnick is too young to understand the concept of gum, I decided to get him a sucker for his reward. The only kind I could find, without buying a bag of 500, was a bright blue Ring Pop up by the registers. I paid for my goodies, handed them off to the kiddoes, and headed to get the laundry detergent.
But… I was distracted by the clearance balloons.
Practically the entire men’s section was on sale—all the shorts and T-shirts from summer were marked down for $5 or even $3, and I just couldn’t NOT LOOK! Seriously, Ken’s shorts have an incredibly short life span (ah, a pun!), and I wasn’t about to pass up rack after rack of them at those prices.
About 10 racks later, I had not found a single pair in his size, but I had started to notice that my hands were sticky. I couldn’t figure out how I hadn’t noticed when I first got my cart that it had a sticky handle.
Then I looked at Finnick, and all was clear.
During all my intense clearance shopping, I had completely tuned out the children. They were quiet. They were satisfied with their treats. They were fine. Except, I forgot that Finnick is still sort of a sucker rookie. He doesn’t understand things like holding the sucker by the stick or that if you touch the sucker and then touch the shopping cart, you’re transferring bright, blue, sticky goo onto the very handle Mama is touching.
Blue was EVERYWHERE. Look, I’ll show you:
It was so bad that we had to make a trip to the bathroom where Finnick received a bath in the sink. On the way there, he threw his sucker across the store and then screamed the rest of the way because I wouldn’t let him have it again. And his pacifier, which he cried for when he realized I really WAS NOT going to give him back the sucker off the floor, was nowhere to be found.
(I think the road to Hell is paved not with good intentions but with the millions of pacifiers that we have lost at the most inconvenient times.)
After the sucker fiasco, I decided to hurry up, grab my detergent, and get the heck out of Dodge. And all would have been fine if we hadn’t had to exit through that dern Garden Center. But who would have predicted that on our way out the door, we would happen upon…
A baby bird. A cute, tiny baby bird that started following out shopping cart towards the parking lot.
Guys, I’m telling you, you can’t make this stuff up.
Here I am with 2 young children who are OBSESSED with animals, and there’s this tiny bird hopping along behind our cart chirping. And they just know, because we just read the book, like yesterday, that those chirps are saying, “Are you my mother?”
Well, I can just see that bird getting smashed right in front of my sweet children, so I’m desperately looking for someone—ANYONE—that works at Wal-Mart who can move this bird away from the danger zone so their innocence can be maintained. But, of course, there’s no one. And the kids are begging me to take that bird home. Which, of course, there’s no way we’re going to do.
My husband and my BFF (and probably YOU, if you’d been asked) said this would have been a great time to teach my kids about “survival of the fittest”. But I just couldn’t handle that after the toy let-down, the haircut catastrophe, AND the blue sticky. So I think of a genius compromise:
There is a vet’s office that we pass right by on the way home. And I have a diaper box. So I think, “No problem! I will load this bird up in my box, drop him off at the animal-loving vet who will somehow integrate the little guy back into bird society! My children will think I’m a hero, my husband won’t divorce me, and baby bird will be saved from a fate worse than death. Win for all!”
That is not at all how things played out.
First off, the excitement of the bird was enough to make Andy have to pee RIGHT NOW. I guess it is too much to expect him to have needed to go when asked while we were already in the restroom with his brother a mere 15 minutes ago. It’s much more fun to pee into the wind in the middle of the parking lot with your shorts all the way down around your ankles so that Mama can get misted while trying to block your naked behind from being seen. But with that done, everyone finished getting loaded up, and it was time to hand off this bird.
We stopped by the vet, but he informed me that his office did not accept baby birds. But he assured me that the Heard Museum did, and he gave me their number.
The Heard Museum informed me that they did not accept baby birds. But they assured me that there was a place in McKinney that did. Unfortunately, they couldn’t remember the name of the place, nor could they give me any contact information. All they could tell me was an intersection.
Google maps informed that there is NOTHING at that particular intersection.
So there I was, saddled with a baby bird that my kids wanted to keep. I knew I couldn’t release it at home without a scene out of National Geographic playing out right in front of them since we live next door to about 17 cats. And we couldn’t keep it. We simply, absolutely, without a doubt COULD NOT keep it.
To make matters worse, we had managed to miss lunch during all the Wal-Mart and bird fun, and we were hungry. I had planned to stop for chicken on the way home, but it felt so wrong to buy a bucket of fried bird right in the midst of my Great Bird Rescue.
So… how did we get out of this mess?
I lied to my children.
We found a nice, shady little spot away from civilization where we could release baby bird into the wild. I explained to Andy that we were going to let the bird go in this super safe place (lie!) so that he could live with other birds again (lie!) and be happy (lie!). We took a picture with his short-lived pet (who would be dead within 24 hours…) and waved goodbye.
And we ate chicken for lunch.