Wrapping paper and diapers.
It turns out even a list of this microscopic stature can ignite a blog-worthy tale when combined with the right amount of toddler – especially when said toddler has caught wind of her second birthday two months too soon.
What started as a bad decision (hindsight wins again) to delay naptime so that Molly could join me in retrieving the aforementioned necessities ended in me forgoing all self-respect to become, apologetically so, that parent.
Firstly, I shouldn’t have gone to Wal-Mart. I should’ve driven the extra twenty minutes to peruse Target’s Christmas aisles because, according to scientific law, ear-piercing tantrums only occur beneath the mother load of migraine-inducing fluorescent lights and blue signs sporting suspiciously smiley faces. But alas, I chose convenience over sanity – a decision that brought me here, behind a computer screen, spilling my woes into Microsoft Word.
I had high hopes for the trip. A quick stop, in and out. A few miscellaneous items. Molly would join me, her sweet laughter a welcome distraction from Wal-Mart’s less refined customers, particularly those incapable of controlling their children. Mother and daughter, infinitely bound by crappy Christmas carols and tacky holiday décor. What could possibly go wrong?
It started with my shopping partner’s adamant decision to “help” push the cart. The built-in seat (fittingly equipped with a safety belt and handlebar, mind you) was for babies, after all, and my almost-two-year-old is most certainly not a baby, thank you very much. If she didn’t get her hands on the bottom rack of that rickety concoction – if her ruffled behind didn’t shoot into the air with the force and determination of a hundred Clydesdales – RIGHT THAT VERY SECOND, the whole store would immediately explode.
(Granted, this doesn’t sound like the worst idea ever but, as it is, I’m a law-abiding citizen so … sure, Molly, be my guest.)
Until it was time to stop the cart – a catastrophic necessity of which no one bothered to inform my daughter.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is how The Day Wal-Mart Took My Dignity came to regrettable fruition. It’s a tragic story of fiery tears and grievous wails – of lost hope and crushed dreams.
Damn you, wrapping paper, for being many and varied.
Damn you, shopping cart, for stopping.
Molly lost it. All twenty pounds of her irate body fell to the floor in furious resistance. Her fists, dotted with snow-white knuckles, swung at invisible reindeer while her bare feet (because nothing alleviates rage like undressing yourself?) karate-kicked their equally imperceptible, not-so-jolly ringleader. I had wronged her; she demanded vengeance.
And what did I do about her hysterical meltdown?
Exactly what every other unrefined Wal-Mart mother does.
Nothing. I did nothing.
While she unloaded her anger on the Wally World gods, I took a vested interest in the chevron print. Wrapping paper had never looked so glorious. Should I get it in red and white or green and silver? Should I go for two rolls or three? If I drape myself in it will I blend in with the shelves? Will I disappear into delightful nonexistence?
People stared. People pointed. People whispered. (To the man who so accurately noted that “someone is not happy!” … Thank you for taking an earnest interest in my emotional state. I appreciate it.) People did exactly what I do and I did exactly what I swore I’d never do.
A story of crushed dreams.
I hauled that flailing toddler to the baby section, numbed by an impressive array of judgmental stares, and grabbed the first box of diapers I saw but I left without an inch of wrapping paper – chevron or otherwise.
This year it seems Santa won’t be needing it.