So I take the three kids to Wal Mart yesterday… #2 Son …who’s 12… The 9 year old daughter… And Auntie… She’s 80.
The minute we got into the van… They started arguing over who’s going to sit where. Now… Auntie’s got her fav seat and the kids will grab it just to get her started. Five full minutes of “MOVE!!” … “No, YOU MOVE!!” … “That’s MY seat!!” … “Tell her / him to MOVE!!!” … “STOP!!” … “MINE!!!” … “Cut it OUT!!” more than got on my nerves… I was ready to throw them all out. I didn’t
Any way… Got them settled in and got on the road… Then the touching started. Auntie yelled louder than either of the young’uns. As soon as one of the little ones would yell “STOP TOUCHING ME!!” Auntie yells “STOP TOUCHING HIM / HER!!!”… As we crossed the bridge over the interstate… Guess what I was thinking?
So… We make it to Wal Mart with no major injuries and I don’t wreck the van… (Now… In case you’re thinking that I was a passive bystander… I wasn’t… There were the usual threats and admonitions to “sit still”… “Be quiet”… “Don’t make me come back there!”… All the routine stuff… But how do you work in a threat of a time out to an 80 year old?… Respect for the elders and all being taken into the equation.) … Soooo… we’re now in the parking lot… And all three of them make a mad dash to grab a cart… Which promptly devolves into an argument of who’s gonna push the cart… All aimed at me.
The boy says he’s the best choice cause he’s the strongest… OK… We are here to buy a couple hundred pounds of dog food.
The girl puts on her best Daddy’s Little Girl face and pouts that she should push the cart until the dog food goes in cause she won’t be able to push the heavy thing after it’s loaded… Good argument sweetie… Daddy’s little princess is sooo smart in’t she?
Auntie counters with… They’re too wild!… they’ll run people over!… The boy’s mind wanders too easily and the girl’s not got enough experience!… Besides… Auntie needs something to lean on… Sigh.
“OK”… I say doing my best imitation of Solomon the Wise… “Here’s what we’re gonna do” … ” Since we’re getting four 50 pound bags… We’ll use two carts.” Auntie… You get one until its full then I’ll push it… Little Girl… You get to push the other until it’s full and then your brother will take over… But in the meantime he’ll help you steer through the crowd… Everybody good with that?… Let’s roll!
Ten feet from the van… # 2 son screeches… ” Ow… she ran over my foot!”… Auntie stops right in back of a backing out car and walks away from her cart to tend to the wounded boy. The driver of the car blows his horn and Auntie freezes and seems to have forgotten which direction to go… She is now turning around in a circle apparently trying to decide which is more important… The cart or the kid. The kid meanwhile has forgotten all about his foot and is yelling at Auntie to move the cart!
The daughter is now fully engaged in a contest to see who can yell the loudest… Then… I join in by calling out to Auntie… “Hey!… Move the cart!” BIG MISTAKE!!! Auntie now goes into overload mode… She has to reboot like a pre-Pentium windows 95 machine. If she had a screen it would be blue… She stops where she’s at and stares… Her hand goes towards the fanny pack… She’s reaching for a cigarette! … The horn is blowing! CRAP! CRAP!… CRAP! I think… maybe I said it out loud… I don’t know. I do remember thinking.. “We’re not even in the store yet… We can still go home.”… We don’t.
I jog over and grab the cart and mouth “Sorry” to the man in the car…. I give the kids one of my special reserve glares and imperiously point at the store entrance… They shut up and move. I take Auntie by the arm and gently guide her to the sidewalk while pulling the empty cart behind us. Years of experience tell me that Auntie is useless now until she sucks down a cancer stick… We’ll wait.
Of course, the kids are now in the front lobby… Blocking traffic and arguing… people are glaring at them. I tell Auntie to wait by the cart and I’ll be right back… She looks at me and blinks… and puffs… I take off.
I drag the young’uns out side and we wait for Auntie to re-boot… She’s shaken …So I should take her home… But do I? Of course not! From this moment on… Any consequences are on my head.