Shopping. That magical word is like music to my ears. If you're like me, taking a shopping trip is a therapeutic ritual that helps me deal with the stress of life's sudden changes. I mean, why wouldn't I find any excuse to buy a new pair of hip boots or a trendy new purse that would look fabulous with that outfit I bought on sale last week? The possibilities are endless when you have plastic in your pocket.
When we venture off on that somewhat freeing quest to snatch up deals, we usually call up our posse of close friends or family to support our impulsive decisions to buy things we often don't need. It's always good to have a friendly companion to help you justify buying all three pairs of opened toe heels that you couldn't make up your mind about and all four of the same blouses in different colors because they shape your body just right. Let's be honest, shopping is fun and we all enjoy it. That is until your trip involves taking your four children. That's when your pleasantly anticipated trip turns into mass chaos in department store hell.
In a recent trip to our favorite department store, Kohl's, my children and I set out to finish some last-minute school shopping. Having four kids, one being a teenage boy, two of which are overly dramatic grade school girls and then there is my very rambunctious two-year old; the odds are definitely not in my favor. But, I'm a risk-taker so I accepted the challenge. With my shopping cart overflowing with the cutest fashions that meet all the requirements of two very picky daughters, we set off to the fitting rooms with the goal of narrowing down our selection to two outfits each. With adolescent attitudes and a few disappointed tears, we finished with a surprising amount of time to spare. Enough time for this here momma to search out some deals in hopes to add to her fall and winter attire.
My favorite season is fall, so browsing the over-sized sweaters and skinny jeans is must for this time of the year. I don't usually do this with my kids, but since I was already there, I took a chance and thought maybe the kids wouldn't try killing each other, and I could scope out what's new and trending for the upcoming season. With my back turned and my arms reached into the depths of a clearance rack, I surprisingly snagged a beautiful cream cable knit sweater from last season that was on sale for $4 with 20% off. How awesome was that! Just as I was about to do my "Oh Yeah, Look What I Scored" happy dance, I turn to see all three of my daughters spritzing it up at the perfume display.
"Try me", is what these bright and uniquely decorated bottles of scented fashions read. A three-tiered placement at arm’s reach of my very curious little girls; two who without a doubt can read the tempting fine print labeled on each bottle. Now, I'm sure you can see where this is going and picture the look on my face when I see my two oldest double fisting Kohl's finest brands of eau de cologne and using not only themselves as test subjects, but their innocent baby sister as well.
"What are you doing! Are you kidding me? You smell like Grandma LaVerne. Why? Why? Oh my gosh, I'm going to be sick. You all smell so bad. Why?" is what I ranted as I yanked bottle after bottle out of my girls’ hands. With attention being drawn toward our direction, there was no way to duck and hide from this very public situation, because the malodorous haze would just follow us. As other patrons passed by, we could definitely see noses being pinched, hear other children making remarks and a few people give their best air swats with their hands to avoid breathing in the almost deadly mixture of Nikki Minaj, Katy Perry, and Taylor Swift fumes.
When we tend to get mad at our children, we sometimes flare our nostrils and take deeper breaths to keep us from passing out from all the yelling we're about to do, but in my case, that was the biggest mistake I may have ever made. As I inhaled the very potent odor of my children who smelled like they were victims of a pass around at a family reunion. I choked, and I gasped, and then turned my back so my kids wouldn't see my eyes tear up. I pretty sure after what I just experienced, I could handle and walk out of a basic training gas chamber like I own it.
With three sets of arms crossed and the loud claps of flip flops smacking the store floor from my little attitude walking angels, we began our departure to front of the store apologizing to employees who witnessed and were victims themselves of the "Pop Star Perfume Incident of 2015". Yeah, It was that bad, I had to name it. The employees were kind enough to accept my 30-plus apologies as we headed towards checkout to escape anymore attention then I wanted to attract.
To my amusement we had been pushed to the front of the line to check out. It was a prayer answered. Thank you, Lord! It was as if God had split the checkout line in my favor. In my overly creative imitative mind, I felt somewhat like Moses, and the people were chanting, "Let these people go, Let these people go!" But, then again it also could have been that the fellow shoppers saw the pink cloud of over-priced perfume crest the jewelry counter and ran for safety.
Arriving at the service desk, I quickly tossed my purchase onto counter in hopes the casher would catch on to my willingness to be brief and she too would be swift. Apparently my actions weren't clear enough, because she was as slow as a snail traveling through peanut butter. Our now new friend Loren, surprised us with a good game of guess my children's age and grade. The prize for winning was my survival. As I stand there shoulder to shoulder with my kids I try very hard to hold my composure and keep a friendly conversation with Loren, but my sense of smell began to leave, my eyes began to burn, and my mouth quickly became dry. My mind kept telling me, "Do you really need this sweater? Because right now, you need water. You're not going to make it. Abort. Abort. Abort."
The transaction was complete and I rushed my family out the door. "Fresh air! Hallelujah! Fresh air!" is what my poor teenage son openly expressed as the sliding doors of the store slid open. "What were you two girls thinking? As I loaded them into the van, I forcefully said, “The first things you do when you get home are don't pass go, don't grab lunch, go straight to the bathtub." Windows down and hair blowing all over the place was the only way we could make it home without being asphyxiated. That was until the clouds broke and dropped the rainstorm of the century on us. All the way home we choked on Nikki's Pink Friday and Taylor's Wonderstruck, and I wished I would have waited two more days to spend my Kohl's cash when my kids were away at school.
Washed up and ready for meet-the-teacher night, my girls finally smelled their age again. I can finally fully embrace them and kiss their faces without my throat closing and my eyes twitching. As for my van; well, it smells like I hosted a week long ladies bible study in it. It's ok, no big deal. It definitely beats the smell of old fries and spoiled milk, a scent most parents are very familiar with.
At the end of these drawn-out eventful days, I still can't help but to remain thankful. I’m thankful that I have these kids who test my patience and do silly things despite my constant warnings, and thankful for the embarrassing memories that will forever trigger nervous twitches. Moreover, I will cherish and be thankful for these life lessons that I will use to guide my children when they are adults with little ones of their own. This shopping trip wasn't the first time my children have turned my face 50 shades of red and won't be that last. With my kids, I have come to expect the unexpected and sometimes the unexpected is not always that bad.