Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Shopping With Boys

I don't enjoy shopping with my two boys. Whether it be for groceries, shoes, or clothes; its just not enjoyable. They're not keen on shopping and always behave badly. So I try to stay realistic about the situation, and I try to avoid the situation whenever I can. I'll go to the grocery store any time of day, any day of the week, as long as they don't have to go with me. And I'll order whatever I can online to keep them out of the mall. But my recent back-to-school online purchases didn't fit them and needed to be exchanged. Today I found myself at the mall, doing the thing I try to avoid, shopping with boys.

What's so bad about shopping with boys? Well, my last experience with them in a department store had me standing in the middle of a lingerie department with two little boys running through racks of bras screaming "look at all of the boob holders". They were much younger then, but since then they've developed a fascination and obsession with female mannequins. I have to keep a constant eye on them so they don't start undressing the mannequins. If there aren't any mannequins catching their eye, there is usually some sort of display that does and they inevitably knock it over. And if its a really boring store, they just start wrestling each other and annoying other shoppers. Quite simply, shopping with my boys is embarrassing and frustrating. I spend so much time telling them to stop misbehaving that I can't concentrate on anything else. I lack focus, I make bad decisions, and bad purchases; and then I need to do it all over again to make returns.

Today wasn't horrible though; I've seen worse. We got through Old Navy with my kids finding the right sizes, only knocking over one display, and only molesting one mannequin. And we made it through a couple of other stores without disaster. Its still shopping with boys though. But since we were already there, I made a quick stop in Victoria's Secret for their sale. I braced myself for disruptions from my boys and quick decisions for me. But, as I stood there deciding on what colors to choose, my boys stood at my side giving me their full attention, offering their suggestions. I was almost embarrassed that they were discussing thongs, except they were behaving so well. They stood there discussing between themselves whether mom should get the black leopard print or the pink zebra. After some serious thought, they finally compromised and decided on the pink leopard print. They actually helped me, even if it was slightly embarrassing and short-lived. But this is shopping with boys. While I was paying at the register, my 6 year old knocked over a make-up display and my 4 year old started up a conversation with a mannequin. That is when this episode of shopping with boys ended.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Cling Wrap

What is it about the heat of the summer that makes kids clingy? Our area has been enduring a heat wave over the past week with humid temperatures close to 100 F. Personal space is huge in heat like this, but my kids and my dog seem to need to be closer to me than ever before. A decrease in humidity usually increases static cling, but apparently an increase in humidity turns my entourage into cling wrap.

The dog decided this week that I actually am his best friend and he wouldn't leave my side. He tightly followed me around the house, his fur sticking to my legs. And if I sat down, he was right there to pant his hot sticky breath on me. I couldn't turn around without tripping on my 4 year old, who was also clinging. The kid could not get any closer without getting back inside. And my 6 year old decided in the heat that it was cool again to hug his mom. And when I say "hug", what I really mean is hang from my neck. Its just too hot for this nonsense.

Just short of carrying around a bottle of Static Guard, I did find something to break the cling. Just like true static cling, water seems to break it. The only place I found that I could get any peace, was in the pool. Generally, I'm more of a side spectator; at most maybe a leg dangler. But I found that when I got in the pool, my kids dispersed like a school of startled fish. We threw the ball back and forth, but they kept their distance and I maintained a nice radius of personal space. It was like they were afraid to come too close to mom when she's wet. My 4 year old kept marveling at the fact that I put my head all the way under. Maybe I scared them? Whatever the reason, I'm glad I broke the cling, even if just for a couple of hours. Further proof of my theory on water breaking mammal cling: its raining today, I've received zero hugs, and I haven't seen the dog in hours.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Herding Cats

This past week was Vacation Bible Camp at our church and I think I am still recovering. I've helped with this camp almost every year since we moved here and every year its a great week, but tiring. I enjoy volunteering and its not a hard job, but it is exhausting. Every year it puzzles me more and more why this camp kicks my ass. It's 3 hours a day for a week. Just 3 hours a day. Three hours of me merely herding my assigned group of kids around from one activity to the next. It seems simple enough. But this is the one week each year where I actually need an afternoon nap and I'm falling asleep before 10pm. I don't get it.

During the school year when my preschooler was in school for just under 3 hours, I felt like I did far more exhausting things in that time period. I got groceries, went to the gym, and got a run in before picking my preschooler up. And then I continued on with my afternoon herding my two kids around without feeling like I got hit by a truck that morning. So, why is herding a few extra kids around a very structured camp for the morning so tough?

Someone at the camp last year used the term "herding cats", and I agree with this description. There were a few times throughout the week that I felt like all eight kids in my group were running in different directions away from where I wanted them to be. Cats don't come when you call them. Is this what its like for teachers every day? Are my kids' teachers herding cats every school day of the year? And if it is, is this what my kids' teachers feel like at the end of each day? I gave my kids' teachers a lot of credit before, but if this is their exhaustion at the end of every school day, then they are truly under-appreciated.