Yesterday morning while I was in the throes of frustration trying to teach JP to read--yes, even into my 18th year of homeschooling, I still find teaching reading one of the most frustrating things I have to do--I got a phone call from a homeschooling mom friend. She was calling to invite JP and DJ to her son's 7th birthday party, which is this afternoon.
"If you don't finish reading this, you're not going to the birthday party!" I told JP.
He finished reading the page in record time, then we had lunch and decided to head out to Target to look for a birthday present for his friend.
"Can I go too?" asked 11 year-old Bernadette. "I've finished my school work and I'm bored."
"Okay. As long as you don't ask for anything," I said. Famous last words.
"Me too!" said 9 year-old Paul.
"Promise me you won't ask for anything," I said, knowing full well that that's what 9 year-old boys do when you take them to Target.
"I promise!" he said.
And of course I had to bring both DJ and JP since it is their friend who's having the birthday and they had to be a part of selecting the present.
Since we were going to Target, I thought this would be a great time to look for some proper Easter clothes for the little boys since they'd either outgrown or destroyed everything they own. Just to make sure we didn't already own some nice sport coats that would fit them, we pulled out our entire selection of boys' sport coats. We had one that fit Paul nicely and one that fit JP nicely. "Great!" I said. "We'll look for one for DJ. And we'll find some new pants that fit and some shirts and ties."
So off we went to Target. Shopping for boys is WAAAYYY easier than shopping for girls. (See Twitter postings from last weekend, when I was trying to find Easter dresses for some of the girls). Navy blue blazer, navy blue trousers, blue buttoned-down shirts and sportive clip-on ties. Mission accomplished in less than 5 minutes.
On to the toy section and here's where it gets really fun. The boys immediately began asking for things:
"Bionicles! I just need one more to add to my set of 145!"
"Why can't I have this Star Wars Lego set? It's only $199.99?"
"But I really NEED this Super-Soaker Water Blaster Hydro-Sonic Extreme Fun Gun!"
Then Bernadette started in:
"Can you buy me a CD player? I really need one. And it's only $20."
"No. I thought you said you weren't going to ask for anything?"
"Yeah, but it's only $20 and I thought you were going to pay me for babysitting."
"I don't have any money right now."
"Then how come you're buying all this stuff?"
"Because this is stuff we need."
"But I need a CD player."
You kinda get the drift. This is how all my shopping trips with kids seem to go. It doesn't matter if I have one with me or half a dozen.
I finally picked out the present myself. A Nerf-blaster gun. I know this little boy. He's definitely a Nerf-blaster gun sort of kid. And they were on sale. And he doesn't have a dog who would inhale the Nerf balls like ours would.
Next, I needed to make a quick trip to the grocery store. I decided since it was St. Patrick's Day that I would make something special for dinner. No, not corned beef and cabbage. My husband, who is 1/4 Irish hates corned beef and cabbage. No, I decided I'd make something green for dinner and something green for desert. I made chicken enchiladas with green chile sauce and easy-peasy frozen limeade pie for desert. (The pie was a fave when I was a kid, but now as an adult, I think it's pretty ghastly. Still, it's green and the kids love it. And I even ate a piece last night!) To wash it all down, I bought some Guinness stout. Boy, was that good! And due to St. Paddy's Day, it was on sale.
Getting back to the shopping ordeal: the kids behavior was deteriorating rapidly in the grocery store as they realized that I wasn't buying the green frosted cookies, donuts or cakes. Nor was I buying any toys, movies, candy, chips or sodas. By the time we got to the check-out, I was ready to sell them all to some rich Arab. I decided to skip the line in the regular check-out and go to the self-service. It said "15 items or less," but, hey, who's counting?
I warned the kids, "Stand back and don't touch anything!"
"Can we ride the horses?" Paul asked.
"NO! Don't talk and don't touch. I'm tired of you asking for things. And stop touching things. Just hold onto the cart and don't MOVE!" I sneered.
Just then, an elderly gentleman walked up to me and said, "Are all these kids yours?"
I replied with a rather annoyed tone and a tense smile, "These are SOME of my kids." ("Now go away and leave me to my misery," I thought).
He walked away, only to return 30 seconds later. I was still trying to scan my groceries and keep the kids from "helping" me. He pulled out his wallet and said, "Here's something to help you out."
I looked at the 50-dollar bill he was trying to hand me and I felt horror-stricken that he would think I needed help.
I don't usually wear sweat pants and a t-shirt to the store, but I was wearing that yesterday and JP had ripped pants because they were the only green things he could find to put on that day. Was it because I looked so annoyed and frazzled at my kids? Or did I just look poor?
"Please," I said, "give it to someone who really needs it."
"Oh, no," he said. "I want you to have it."
I insisted, "That's very generous of you, but you should really give it to someone who needs it. But thank you very much for your kindness."
He finally put the money away and said, "It's the Lord's money. I'm just trying to help out."
"Wow, Mom," said Bernadette. "He thought we only had four kids! Imagine what he would've wanted to give us if he knew we had ten!"
"Oh, Mom!" said Paul, "you should've taken it! We could've bought the Special Edition Super-Duper Bionicle Goes to Mars Mind-Blaster!"
Now my kids are plotting how they could convince me to take all the kids to the grocery store so some nice elderly gentleman would give us lots of money.