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The Best Trip to Target I've Ever Taken

We’re out of food — a common experience when you live with teenagers, and they keep inviting friends over. It’s a near-daily experience. But the food levels in our house have become a bit tragically low, even for us.

So yesterday, I decided I should go buy lots of food. I keep saying I will, then never do because of this or that, but yesterday, I thought it could be different. That plan went south when I said out loud, “I’m going to go food shopping.”

“Shopping?” Maura piped up, sudden eagerness in her voice. She looked down at her feet.  “Oh! Shoes!”


“Okay Maura, go find your shoes…”

She spent a good five minutes being way dramatic about finding shoes — or not being able to find shoes because despite the shoe rack in the entry and the shoe rack in the closet and the mats for shoes by the door and the space for shoes I made in her own closet — we can never find shoes. (Though to be honest, yesterday I couldn’t find one of my shoes either. It’s been a long summer.) So I asked the teens to help find shoes for their sister.

You know, it’s amazing how quickly they find stuff when it means I’ll take Maura with me… Hmm…

My “Great Stock Up on Everything” plan turned into “Run to Target, Grab Some Laundry Detergent and Enough Food to Get Us Through the Evening” plan, as I was already regretting taking Maura with me before even getting out the door.

We got to Target and glanced at the videos. I’d had hoped to find a copy of “Aladdin” (didn’t), and Maura ooo’ed and ahh’ed over all the brightly labeled choices while I cringed. I wasn’t sure we’d make it out of the aisle without a scene. She began to say, “I can’t… I can’t… ” which is her way of saying, “I can’t make a choice, there are too many options, I’m overwhelmed, I don’t know what I want, I’ll probably have a huge meltdown soon…”

But somehow… we got out of the aisle without a scene. Easily. I said, “Let’s keep looking,” and she said, “OK!” She did nab a “Frozen” sticker book on the way, in an attempt to get something. I said, “Hey, let’s look at it first… Oh… It’s stickers…” — Maura doesn’t care for stickers — “Let’s look at the coloring books instead,” I suggested, as I put the book back.


Well, that was easy.

We looked at coloring books, which got a big “No” from her. However, the next aisle had composition books, and the girl loves those things and plucked a bright pink one off the shelf. I OK’d it — anything to keep her away from my paper.

After a brief stop in the laundry detergent aisle, we ended up in the school supply section –Maura has a thing for paper and pens; she will go around with notebooks and pens and scribble all day, so this all made sense. She glanced over everything, but I could tell that the busyness of the section was beginning to get to her. She became less cooperative. I tried steering her towards something and she yelled “No!” and ran. This was my cue to get her out of the section.

And then, we turned a corner.

And there were ALL the backpacks.

All the girly, pink and purple, princessy, sparkly, girl-powery backpacks.

I watched Maura glance at them all and suddenly, her eyes got wide and she gasped.


It was a “Frozen” backpack.

A “Frozen” backpack that lights up.

A pink and purple “Frozen” backpack with sparkly sides that light up.

She wrestled her own personal Holy Grail off the rack and hugged it. I glanced at the price and breathed a sigh of relief. On sale for $14.99?  Done deal.

We raced through the food section with the happy girl pointing out every time that backpack blinked (as long as it’s moving, the lights twinkle… even sitting in the cart, it was twinkling) as I grabbed snacks and cereal and corn dogs. We negotiated over “orange” juice (some weird veggie juice blend) and got apple juice instead. I also steered her away from the “fruit and veggie” orange-colored popsicles and pointed to the regular popsicles below. Yes, I steered my child away from the healthier choices. She eats cherry tomatoes like candy and grapes until she’ll burst — we’ll be fine.

She then happily bypassed the clothing section — a first — so we could check out.

I noticed then that she got nervous in line. I looked at her and said, “Don’t worry, we’re still getting the backpack!” and she suddenly smiled. Yes, I can add “mind reader” to my resume now. She then handed me the backpack and did a happy dance. I put it on the belt as she jumped up and down in sheer total excitement. I chatted with her about how she could be happy, but maybe not this loudly. The nice man scanned it, put it in the bag for her and handed her the bag. She instantly cheered and “Woohoo!”ed, and the woman in the next lane smiled and agreed that the backpack was fantastic. The nice cashier man even loaded up the cart while I tried to contain Her Most Excitedness, who was still hopping about laughing.

There was one moment, where I thought, “Wow, this is still not age appropriate for her” and wondered about her being 30 and hopping about with happiness over a doll or backpack. But then I was all, “She’s happy, anyone who doesn’t like it can shove it…” and went on with life.

But we weren’t done. No, Maura spotted the restroom sign and did her potty dance (she only does this when there’s an audience… sigh…). There I am with a cart of stuff, and she wants to use the restroom. Then she spots Starbucks and wants to go to Starbucks as well. So I say, “Let’s put our stuff in the car, then come back inside, go potty and go to Starbucks.”


Um… OK…

I give that line again on our way out — first car, then potty, then Starbucks. She’s happily cooperative. She got it. She understood and helped me put stuff in the car without batting an eye.

So we went back in, went potty, then Starbucks.

When we got back in the car, she asked, “Home?”

Yes, we’re going home.

We’re going home after the most successful outing in recent memory. No meltdown, no staring from others, no crying from either of us. Sure, we had corn dogs and popcorn for dinner. The teenagers didn’t mind one bit. But this is why, even though it doesn’t always go this smoothly, I keep taking her places. Because she can do it. We can get through this. We’ll have our bad times, but we’ll have our awesome times as well. And hopefully, with practice, we’ll end up with more awesome times than not. Case in point — the first day of swimming lessons, she cried when I changed her after the lesson was over, but we pushed through it.  The next one, she fussed slightly then was fine. Last week? No fuss.

We can do this. Sure, the next outing may contain a meltdown, but we will get through it.

And by the way, Maura slept with her new backpack, then woke me up bright and early to show me her new backpack and is now wearing the new backpack. Because it is the Best Thing Ever to Have Been Purchased at Target Ever.


This post originally appeared on Herding Cats. 

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