It’s my birthday.
So I went shopping.
I decided to head to Barnes and Noble first. I think I could spend an entire day in Barnes and Noble. When I walked through the doors I breathed in that familiar coffee smell and started perusing the new books.
This is the life....standing in Barnes and Noble, surrounded by books and...oh my God, look at that cheesecake in the display case at the bakery. I MUST try that cheesecake. Okay, so I have cake at home but not chocolate CHEESEcake. Plus, it’s my birthday and there are no such things as calories on birthdays. I just need to---
“Mommy. Natalie is leaving,” my son’s voice piped up.
Ahh nice. Natalie is leaving. She must be....
Then it suddenly dawned on me that Natalie was MY kid. And that she was totally taking off into the travel section.
I put the book I was looking at down and rushed off in pursuit of my daughter with my son at my heels. I was a little annoyed as I made my way past books about places that I will probably never get to go to. Before we had entered Barnes and Noble I had explained solemnly to my kids that it was a magical place that needed to be respected so they had to be quiet.
“Kind of like a church?” my son Tommy wondered.
I patted his head. “Yes! Kind of like a church!”
Why didn’t my daughter comprehend this? Is it so hard for her to stand in place for a few minutes? Didn’t she realize we were in BARNES and NOBLE?
I found Natalie crouching in front of the books about Disney. I have to give it to her, she has taste. I’d love to go back to Disney. Maybe one day.
I didn’t want to move too fast because if I did Natalie would probably take off again. So I sort of bent over and started speaking in soothing tones. I pretended she was an abandoned pet and that I was saving it from leaping off a cliff.
“Hi there, Natalie. Hi. I see you’re in front of the Disney books. Disney was so much FUN, wasn’t it?” I cooed as I slowly approached her. At my right Tommy started rushing over and I put a hand on his shoulder. “Stop,” I hissed. “If you move too quickly she’ll run again.”
Tommy nodded seriously and copied my movements. I was almost able to grab Natalie’s arm....almost....almost...
“Here’s the book about Tibet!” a woman’s voice rang out.
This was all Natalie needed to make another escape.
Dang lady, could you not have lowered you voice?
Natalie giggled over to the magazines and covered her face. Then she threw her palms open and shrieked, “Peekyboo!”
I managed to grab her this time.
“We do NOT run off,” I admonished her as I headed over to the fiction section. I had my arm around her waist and tucked up underneath my left armpit. She was not pleased but it gave me a few minutes to look through some books. I quickly picked one up for our trip to Texas next week.
I ended up buying this one:
As we were driving away I realized that I forgot to pick up the cheesecake.
Shopping with children is not fun.
But still, there was one place left that I wanted to pop into.
Gymboree is currently having their Red Balloon Sale and a bunch of things are $7.99 and under.
I had a $25 gift card from my best friend Jennifer because she knows me well.
When we got to the mall I put Natalie in her stroller and told her she had to SIT which is like a foreign word to her. My heart started beating with excitement as I made my way to Gymboree. I was thrilled to search through the clearance racks—who knows what I might find? Maybe I’d discover—
“Mommy! Wait up!”
I realized that I was walking so fast that my son was a few feet behind me.
“Sorry Tommy,” I said as he caught up.
When we walked into the store another burst of excitement went through me when I saw the clearance racks set up towards the front. There were two other women going through the racks and at first I gazed at them with appreciation. They probably understood completely how exciting children’s clothing could be. They probably wouldn’t look confused when I gushed about the different line names. In short these were my people!!
As I was thinking this one of the women realized I was looking over and shot me an evil look.
Well. Okay. Maybe she’s not my people after all. She probably just walked into the store because she was enticed by the giant sale sign and would gape at me in confusion if I rambled on about how Sweeter than Chocolate was one of my favorite lines from the store.
Plus, she couldn’t be one of my people anyway. She had a huge pile of clothes draped across her arm. Wait a minute. She was stealing all the deals! I can’t let someone who isn’t even into Gymboree steal all the deals! I walked determinedly over to the rack and started going through it. All the sizes were much too large for my children. As I was debating buying a shirt in a size 5—-because after all, Natalie would EVENTUALLY get there—-I heard Tommy say,
“Mommy, Natalie is leaving the stroller.”
I stared at the stroller and realized she was calmly climbing out of it.
“No, Natalie,” I said sternly.
She immediately took offense and tilted her head back and emitted a scream that caused everyone in the store to look over.
I quickly dug in my purse and handed her my cell phone.
“Here. Take this!” I practically shoved it at her.
Natalie quieted down and happily took it. If ever anyone receives a strange text message from me, it’s likely because Natalie has my phone. Just an FYI.
I was able to go through the racks but I didn’t find much.
Slightly dejected, I went to check out. As I went to pay Natalie suddenly announced, “I farted.”
Lovely. She’s been saying that for the past few days and I’ve explained more than once that that’s the sort of news that one keeps to themselves. But she doesn’t seem to comprehend and it’s been “I farted” several times a day to the point where I’ve started to wonder if she could benefit from some Beano.
The girl who was ringing up my clothes looked up in shock when Natalie announced her flatulence.
“She didn’t say what you think,” I said in a rushed voice. “She said...'I started' because she started to play a game on the cell phone.”
Look, I go into Gymboree a lot. I can’t have them thinking that I’m the customer with the kid that announces that she’s cut the cheese. I just CAN’T.
The check out girl looked impressed. “She can already play games?” she said incredulously as she put my clothes in a bag.
I nodded. “Yes. Just the, um, easy ones.” To be honest, I don’t even know if games are even ON my cell phone. I reached over and surreptitiously pulled the cell phone from Natalie’s mouth and tried to send her a silent message that she needed to look as though she were playing a game.
“Have a good day,” the girl said, handing me my receipt.
“Thanks,” I replied. “It’s my birthday so I intend to have a good day.”
Now, what I was hoping that would happen in response to birthday announcement is that balloons would fall from the ceiling and Michael Phelps would pop out of the back blowing a whistle and that the CEO of Gymboree would stroll out from the back and ceremoniously hand me a $5000 gift card to the store.
What really happened is that the girl looked bored, blew a bubble with her gum and gave me a pity, “Happy Birthday,” because she was probably tired of me looking at her expectantly.