Countdown to Meltdown

I had this brilliant idea last Saturday to take the girls to the revamped Super Target near us. Caitlin needed shoes for water play at daycare so we headed straight for the shoe department. Immediately I saw that all the infant sandals were on sale and I started searching for Amelia’s size. Mistake number one. Caitlin knew we were there for HER shoes. She started whining, but it was tolerable. I recruited her to help me find shoes with a size 4 on them for sissy and she was a happy camper as soon as she had a mission. After getting on my knees to find the only pair of size 4 sandals on the bottom of a lower shelf in the wrong bin, we searched for water shoes. Caitlin wanted the bigger girl water shoes but I explained that they were too big and she had to get the pink ones or blue ones in her size. There was a little more whining, but she was happy when I put the new pool shoes on her feet. Then we headed to the toddler sandals area. I tried to sell her on one of the many pairs on clearance but who can compete with clearance when there are Dora shoes on the same aisle? And Dora light-up shoes no less! Of course, as luck would have it, they didn’t have the light-up sandals in her size so we settled on a normal, boring pair of non-light up Dora sandals. Then Amelia started fussing. Amelia has always been the world’s easiest baby but lately she must climb over, run over, and topple over everything in sight. I let her down and she immediately runs down the aisle, glances back mischeviously and toddles out of the shoe department. I chase her down and try to put her back in the cart but she will have none of it so I let her explore the shoe department for a bit so she can get her damn ya yas out. By now my patience has run thin, my sinus headache is back like a bad boyfriend and I’m sweating like I’ve been eating extra spicy buffalo wings so I decide it’s time to get the heck out of there. And also, apparently I was coming down with pneumonia so no wonder I was a little pissy.

As I head toward the cash register (by now I am holding Amelia with one arm and pushing the cart with Caitlin in it with my other arm) I stupidly walk by the bins of cheap summer toys beckoning us to enter the toy department. Caitlin pleads, “I want a toy mommy! Please mommy!” So I tell her she can pick something quickly. She can’t make up her mind so I grab some bubbles and I bribe Amelia to get back in the cart with some random plastic toy. Like an idiot I push the cart through the toy department because apparently I haven’t learned to leave a store before someone has a meltdown. Hell then unravels itself by the outdoor toys and pool accessories aisle and Caitlin started pointing to toys and generally whining and fussing and yelling that she didn’t want to go home. I told her if she wanted her bubbles she needed to behave and she said feistily, “I don’t want those bubbles!” so I put those suckers back and hightailed it to the cash register. Everything was fine until she realized I really had ditched the bubbles and she starts screaming “Mama I want my bubbles!!!!” over and over again and crying her eyes out. By then there was someone behind me in line and by God I wasn’t going all the way back to the toy department for 99 cent bubbles when she has a gallon of bubbles at home. So she kicked and screamed and I somehow managed to get her in her car seat while Amelia sat quietly observing her older sister’s behavior and people gave me disapproving glances in the parking lot all the while wondering what kind of mother denies her kid bubbles AND smacks her kid on the leg AND drags her precious young children to Target when it’s 100 degrees outside and naptime.

So what lessons did I learn?

Even though Caitlin’s afternoon naps are hit or miss on the weekends, she still needs downtime in the afternoon so I need to avoid shopping in stores where she will be overstimulated by Hello Kitty, Dora, and Disney Princess merchandise at every corner. I mean it’s basically like taking a crack addict to a crack house and saying “looky, no touchy.”

When you start to even suspect your children have reached their shopping limit, sprint as fast as you can to the cash register. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.

Listen to the little inner voice that is telling you it’s time to leave the store. The voice telling you that it won’t hurt things to stay just a few more minutes is the same devilish voice that tells you to have that one last beer at the frat party and the same devilish voice that convinces you it’s OK to eat two bowls of ice cream because you drank a lot of water that day. Yeah, right.

And finally, one can really never have too many bubbles.


  1. Renee says:

    I swear, I’ve had the exact same shopping experience when my girls were your girls’ ages. I’ll never forget the first time I put a toy back that I said I’d get for Anna at Wal-Mart (Emma was still a baby and too young to care). Anna has misbehaved in the store so I put it back (it was a playset of those little plastic Oreo cookies) and Anna threw the biggest hissy fit in the world. People were staring at me from miles around and I felt like a horrible mother, but I stuck to my guns and didn’t get her the toy. She actually did behave better the next time around, but that could have been pure luck.


  2. Mo says:

    Yeah – I’ve ignored that inner voice before too – and each time I tell myself it won’t happen again… Then I have a screaming baby in the middle of a crazy mall once again, because I thought I could squeeze in 10 more minutes…

    Hope you’re feeling better!

  3. Blonde Mom says:

    Renee, I know we have all been through this, but at the time it’s the worse feeling. And it was sort of ironic that it was my oldest kid throwing the tantrum!

    Mo, I am feeling much better but I’m surprised at how fatiqued I am and I haven’t left the house all week. Ugh. Thanks! 🙂

    Also, could this post be any longer. Whew! It wears me out reading it again. Thanks for reading through to the end. LOL


  4. Anne says:

    My oldest still crows over the light up dora sandals. They are worth the money if you can find them! Light up shoes…my childhood was such a gyp!

  5. jag says:

    You poor thing.

    I only have my ‘kids’ one day a week and they wear me out. The youngest (turning 2 on Sunday) was this close to a hit at the grocery the other day because, while looking for frozen chicken, big sister said ‘oh, that whole cooler is just fish’. He LOVES fish. He was on the verge, you know, with that squished up face and the beginnings of a whine, until we let him pick out brand new Dora sippy cups (which we needed anyway).

    Hey, I’m not above bribery.

  6. kara in kansas says:

    I’ve NEVER had a 100% pleasant shopping experience w/ my twins. Even if we go one on one. I love the crack house analogy.

    I wanna teach my daughter shopping, I really do. It’s a rite of passage? This will be the only way to know who she wants to date-go buy her a $200.00 pair of jeans? Just to find out she likes “bad-boys” (ok, that’s a given-so do I)

    ONCE in a while if they can stay good throughout grocery shopping-I let them pick their own sugar-laden treat at check out. All is right w/ the world when those days happen.

  7. Blonde Mom says:


    Caitlin can be a great shopping buddy and has given me a glorious glimpse into what it will be like in a few years when perhaps both my girls will love to shop! Yea! I just picked the wrong day, wrong time and wrong aisle. Ugh. I should have left when we picked out her sandals but I just couldn’t leave well enough alone. 😉


  8. Library Mama says:

    Jamie, at least you have “someday” to look forward to, when you and your girls go out shopping together. You know that, at some point, girls will love to shop.

    Not such a given with boys……. 😉

    BTW – I’m with Shauna – at least you can blog about it now! 🙂

  9. Amanda says:

    I love shoppping with Hannah. She says”Mommy I love it I have it”. She gets me in so much trouble. I started at the mall when she was 3 weeks.Only for something to do.

    I do know about when to leave. I just had that last weekend at the mall. No nap = no fun If I don’t have the double stroller I am in trouble.

    Are you feeling any better? You have been in my thoughts.

  10. Carolie says:

    You’re my hero…a mother who actually follows through, and not just on a regular day, but on a hot, sticky, tired HARD day! Hurray for not giving in!

    Right now I’m child-free, and of course it’s easy for me to *talk* about consistency and follow-through, but I’m afraid I’ll cave when it’s reality. Thanks for the inspiration for when I have my own.

    Hope you feel better!

  11. Nancy says:

    I went to Target with both my girls this morning. I’m not sure what possessed me to do that. It wasn’t a complete meltdown event, but it certainly wasn’t one of my favorite shopping experiences, either.

    I have to crack up when I get the disapproving looks now. It used to bother me, but I realize that most of the people looking either have never had kids or are waaaay past remembering what it’s like to have a preschooler and a toddler.

  12. Stephanie says:

    Oh my goodness, I have done a ton of babysitting but generally kids that aren’t yours seem to act better around a babysitter…some…but I am not ready for the day when my baby gets big enough to run off. My aunts and my grandma always tell me to never even let them get a quarter machine toy unless they have done something to earn it otherwise they think they are allotted a toy everytime you go to the store. Takes a bit of training but that is how it is done.

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