Saturday, December 10, 2011

The curse of Christmas shopping

Why do kids push all the wrong buttons at all the wrong times?
I still don’t know why I thought it was a good idea.
Perhaps it’s because I had my Mum with me as a kind of back-up should things go bad, and who doesn’t count on their Mum when you’re ready to have a mental breakdown?
Perhaps I was feeling a little anxious that it is getting close to Christmas and I hadn’t bought one gift?
Perhaps I just wanted a change of scenery and thought that this change of scenery might be a good thing for all of us?
But it wasn’t. It was a nightmare. And worst of all, I don’t think I have ever seen my children be so naughty in so many public places in their short little lives.
If you haven’t guessed already, I thought it would be a good idea to take my two children and my Mum to the big smoke for the whole weekend to shop till we dropped.
And when it was all over, I literally did drop into my husband’s arms pleading with him to pour me a big glass of wine and take over the parenting duties.
The weekend started out okay... well, apart from the youngest screaming for at least one hour of the car journey.
Once in the shopping centre, she continued screaming, which only made the older one scream too (why do kids have a fascination with high pitched noises?).
Department stores like Kmart turned them into monkeys wanting to climb the shelves, test out all the toys, open all the books and throw christmas baubles down the aisles.
Clothing stores were ideal for hide-and-seek which is normally fine if they leave the clothes alone. But not this time, as the youngest one (who I’m now calling Miss Firecracker) thought it would be fun to pull all the clothes off the racks and climb into the window display.
The eldest one joined in the hype and decided to lock herself and her sister in a change room.
“Great,” I thought, “I wonder if I can sneak out and leave them there for a bit?”

Aah, no luck. The gap under the door was large enough for them to crawl out.
Gift shops were an absolute no-go-zone as there were far too many breakable objects.
I tried strapping Miss Firecracker in the pram, but little did I know that her middle name is Houdini – she squirmed her way out, no matter how tight the straps were fastened.
Mum tried the same trick in the shopping trolley, but she got out of it, too.
Then we thought we would try taking one child each, but I drew the short straw with Miss Firecracker still testing her vocal chords and running as far away from me as she could go (I now fully understand the concept of child leashes – no more judgment from me).
The only peace we had was putting them on an overpriced joy ride outside the store with Mum and I taking turns to try on clothes or make our purchases (lucky we had a lot of $2 coins in our purses).
The only store where staff showed us sympathy for our predicament was Lorna Jane where they blew up balloons for the kids to play with (thank you!). 
I used to think that some stores involuntarily put curses on kids as soon as they walk in the door.
Officeworks always had this affect on my eldest daughter (when she was three). 
I could never go in there without her playing up. We could go to plenty of other stores on the same day, but Officeworks was always the place where she would turn feral (needless to say I am a very happy customer at Officeworks, just only when I go in alone).
Our weekend finished with me at the end of my tether – still cross at the kids and picking a fight with my Mum.
Thank goodness my Mum never holds a grudge – I love her dearly and could not possibly have survived the weekend without her. And thank goodness the kids fell asleep on the drive home. Peace at last.
So why do kids push all the wrong buttons at all the wrong times?
This is a parenting mystery I will never get my head around, but one thing is for certain, I am NEVER taking them Christmas shopping again... well, at least not this year.


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