I love Olivia fiercely. I love her independence, her joi de vivre, her spunk, her resolve to do. what. she. wants. Let’s never forget that. But there are days, like today, where she was a complete and total pain in the ass because of the things I love most about her.
I’ll admit it, the girl is spoiled and lacks boundaries and just doesn’t care really if what she’s about to do is going to upset Mommy or Daddy or Sis-Sis or hell, the whole damn apple cart. She’s going to do it, and then she’s going to find something else just as exciting to get into. The girl spends the majority of her awake time on a search and destroy mission with a little Go Diego, Go R&R thrown in.
Since we’re going on vacation I decided that I should probably go shopping and stock up on vacation necessities because I’m fairly certain Virginia Beach doesn’t even have a Wall*Martin or Tar*Get or grocery store. Plus, I thought it’d be a good idea for Olivia and I to get out of the house and waste gas as it’s at a record low now. I dressed her in her cute summer dress, pulled the mass of blonde monkey hair out of her eyes and secured it with a barret the size of my pink nail, slipped on her purple faux Crocs (the only shoes she will wear besides her red shit kickers), and loaded her into the mini with promises of a pretzel and juice once we got to my targeted Target. (I may have taught her that pretzels and juice are simply to be expected — sorry Mom.) All was good, and I only had to endure her pleas for “Telebision! Animal Baby! TELEBISION!!” for 7 of the 10 minute drive. (I’m slowly weaning her from TELEBISION!! for trips under 10 minutes. Shut up. Sometimes it’s just easier.)
While we’re on this side of the mini-mall, I thought I’ll just pop into my favorite cheap, fat-person clothing store (Dots!) and pick up a few shirts for our trip to the beach. “Livvy-Lu,” I said, catching her eye in the rear-view mirror. “We’re going in this shop first and you need to stay with Mommy. Okay?”
“TELEBISION!” she said by way of agreement.
Things were going well enough. I browsed a rack of discounted items (because I’m cheap and refuse to pay retail, even if the shirts are already pathetically inexpensive), and she climbed on the nearby jungle gym the store had so thoughtfully provided. Which was all fine and dandy until she made an unsuspecting browser yelp in surpise by sticking her head up through the center of the rack and announcing, “I HERE! I HERE! INNA MY TENT!”
I lured her out of the clothes rack and into the dressing room with the promise of Smarties (that sounds like a line from a “How to be a pedophile: One man’s experience”), where she discovered not only the joy of opening the door and slamming it shut repeatedly, but also that if she slithered on her belly she could easily visit the lady in the next stall. (“HI WADY! HI!”)
I tried reasoning with her. I tried using the candy as leverage, but she’s onto my tricks and had inhaled them seconds before. I tried putting her in time out on the bench in my stall. I tried distraction. NOTHING WORKED, so I hauled ass, paid as fast as I could, and we continued our trip to Target.
Since this morning was pretty I thought it’d be a good idea to let her burn up some of that energy, so we walked to the Target. To be honest, Olivia seldom walks. She’s more of a darter. A zipper and zagger if you will. Meandering is for pussies. She climbed on the fountain’s edge, she jumped from the park bench, she raced to each store front and commented exuberantly on the displays. She helped herself to a few of Michael’s clearanced flowers. She screamed and protested mightily when I finally caught her, pried them from her desperate and surprising strong grip, and returned the flowers to the store manager, then, true to her manic nature pointed up at the big round circles on the next store and gazed in awe.
Though she is only one child we MUST use the titanic cart designed for 3 children (2 in front and 1 I assume that has no legs? Are you familiar with this cart?). I put up with its cumbersome-ness simply because it is just too damn cute when Liv grabs the bar, sticks her butt out and announces, “I’mma shakein’ my booty!” Plus, the kid likes to climb and it’s easier!
“Pretzel!” she said, barely containing her excitement. “PretzelandJUICE!” Done and done. Eating and drinking will occupy her while I check out the clearance and try to remember just what the hell it is I came in here for, I thought. Because I’m obviously very new.
To be fair, the treats did keep her still and happy for the first 3 aisles. Then we got to the travel-sized aisle, and she grew tired of carbs and decided that we needed no fewer than 1,000 travel sized tubes of C*rest. Ditto with the hand sanitizer, and the Old Spice. Fine. Whatever. I didn’t mind because it wasn’t worth the argument and I am one of those annoying people who will put stuff back in the wrong but most convenient spot (but not cold things. Never cold or frozen.). Plus she was actually walking and calm and who am I to disturb that with things like limits and rules?
So that lasted that aisle, and then, having tasted unfettered freedom Olivia looked me dead in the eye, gave me her sweetest smile, then ran as fast as her little toddler legs could carry her into the middle of Target and completely disappeared. For five minutes. (This is not unlike the great Wal*mart disappearance of March.) I had no idea where my 2 1/2 year old had gone and it freaked my shit out. Employees were alerted (child is missing in self-care. Who is responding?), doors were locked, bathrooms were checked, I sprinted from aisle to aisle calling her name in that shrill, frantic, but I’m trying to be calm so I don’t scare her voice that mothers have used since the first baby ripped her from peeper to pooper.
Obviously we found her. She was in the greeting card aisle very calmly relieving the shelves of their heavy burden of birthday cards one handful at a time.
But wait! It gets better. I tried to help restore order to the card aisle, but was assured by a manager with a very tight smile that I shouldn’t worry about it, they’d take care of it, so I chucked Olivia into the basket of the bohemoth cart with a very stern warning to stay put or I would use the seat belt and continued shopping for vacation.
Did you know that you can call Poison Control (1-800-222-1222) from Target? To be honest I’d never really considered it before baby #3, but yep. If you’re sans cell phone and your toddler is uncharacteristically quiet and still, and you realize that there is an overwhelming smell of alcohol, and you look and you see that she has emptied nearly all of the travel-sized bottle of hand-sani onto her dress and hands and now her hair, and is slobbering a lot, and making that face that clearly says, “I’ll not be tasting that again,” then you can wheel right on up to Customer Service and ask for the phone.
After that (she’s fine) I switched carts and cinched that seat belt so damn tight her head inflated. She complained a bit, “MY TUMMY MOMMY! HA-HURT MY TUMMY!!” but quieted down when I gave her another juice box and chocolate cookie. (Hey, the Poison Control lady told me to feed her. It wasn’t like I was intentionally rewarding her suicidal/desperate drunk behavior.)
Much to the relief of everyone who had spent the morning in the store with us, I finished up my shopping, was ushered through the speedy line (even though I had waaaaaaay more than the maximum), and we were sent on our merry way.
Sometime in between me putting her in the basket and exchanging pleasantries with the kind lady from Poison Control, Olivia had slipped 2 or 3 hundred tubes of toothpaste, a pair of sunglasses, and a Go Diego, Go! dvd into my purse. Yeah, the security people at Target don’t like it when you try to steal their merchandise, and you will be ushered to the back room to clear your purse and review your receipt and to try to explain that you had no idea that stuff was in there because you’d stuffed your credit card in your pocket in your haste to vacate Dots! and hadn’t had to look in your purse when it came time to pay and where have they been the past hour or so when there was a lockdown and call to poison control not to mention a redecoration of their greeting cards?!
“Oooooh,” the security guard said. “You’re that mom.”
And I guess today? I was.