Come away with me, boys and girls to a magical place called DI, which is short for Deseret Industries, and also for Downright Insanity, depending. DI is a thrift store on steroids, quite like a Super Walmart, but cleaner and with less swearing.
Our mission: To get clothing for Ellie. She was once the tiniest of our children for her particular age, but she has since "outgrown" that illustrious distinction, and lately she has been outgrowing everything else. The fountain of hand-me-downs that once kept her from going naked has dried up, and so, in a moment of deluded over-self-estimation, I thought, "Hey! Let's go to DI! Just Ellie, Tessa, Jonah and me!"
(This, boys and girls, is where the music gets all foreboding, and you shake your head, knowing that only bad things can happen if our characters continue on their chosen path).
We had been in the store about 15 minutes, and had collected a pile of "try-it-ons" that was draped over the mini-shopping cart seat and handle, leaving the cart empty for Jonah. In a flash - a literal flash of cloth and hangers - I witnessed the shopping cart fly up into the air and completely invert itself, Jonah inside, over the top of Tessa, who had just mounted the front end. The cart landed on Tessa and thankfully, so did Jonah. Nothing breaks the fall of a child like another child, that's what I always say. The chorus of wails that burst from those two small humans was detected by seismographs at NASA three states over.
You know, there is nothing that calls the attention of store employees quite like a good old-fashioned cart flipping. In a pair of seconds we were surrounded by extremely concerned onlookers, who chose to speak all at once offering assistance and asking what we might need. Silence, I thought, a few ice packs, a couple of gags and a bag to put over my head, that's what. Some chocolate might be nice, too. Thank you.
I sat on the floor with a mostly-startled Jonah and a hurt Tessa both huddled impossibly in my one lap. Ellie, for once, made herself quite useful picking up the clothing explosion that lay around us like the aftermath of a party at a nude beach. I probed Tessa's ankle for a possible broken bone, and quickly assessed that she was bruised, embarrassed and otherwise fine. I had arnica on hand (someday I will write an entire post on arnica. You will run out and buy many tubes for you and your loved ones, I promise), so we globed some on, picked our selves off the floor and tried to act natural. Nothing to see here folks. Move along, move along.
A moment later a worker materialized beside me and handed my kids stuffed bears. Used, scary looking stuffed bears. We all smiled and I assured him the kids were fine.
Now, I know you were thinking that this was my story. But noooo, boys and girls, because now we get to cram a cranky toddler, a wounded-but-still-lively ballerina, a clothing diva and a half-spent mama into a handicapped fitting room stall for 45 minutes. You see, Ellie has to bow, shake her booty, kick up her heal and spin in every stinkin' outfit. Apparently, that is the proper way to try on clothing. Jonah lasted about 10 minutes before he discovered the 12" gap under the stall door.
You could almost hear his little brain say "Woo-hoo! I'm free!" Every time he got halfway out of the stall, I grabbed his heals and dragged him back under. It was super fun for him for about 10 pulls, because about 1 in 5 tries he was successful. By now Tessa had decided that she too, needed to try on clothing, so each time he escaped I would have to open the door to run him down while -not one, but two- girls squealed that I was "showing the world their bums". Meanwhile Jonah giggled hysterically and dodged in and out of clothing racks like a rabbit with me in hot pursuit.
We did this about 5 times, till I got smart (well, let's say less-stupid) and sat on the floor in front of the door.
(Begin the screaming-toddler soundtrack here. Continue on a loop, increasing the volume every 4 minutes).
At a certain point, one of the store's many Oh-so-helpful employees called to me from outside the door, "Is everything alright in there?"
Are you kidding me? No, everything is not alright in here! I am at war with Attilla-the-Baby while battling with Miss Ballet who would like for me to buy her 5 skirts-she-doesn't-need, please, and Miss Can-I-skip-ages-10-through-12-and-go-straight-to-obnoxious-teenager?... I have burst a vein in my left eye, I am developing a bruise from a recent unintentional toddler head-butt, and we still have 8 more things to try on... NO...DECIDEDLY NOT ALRIGHT!
I wanted to say all that, but a little voice inside my head (the one that belongs to the mom who discourages me from dolling out pieces of my mind all willy-nilly to telemarketers) tapped the freaky-mom-voice on the shoulder and suggested that maybe we would not like to have Child Protective Services called on us today, especially when we are so close to being done.
"Oh, he's just really, really tired." I call from my sumo-match on the dirty blue indoor-outdoor carpet in the stall. Really, he has all the energy in the world, it's me who's really, really tired. There is no answer. Good, I think, I don't need another audience. Was he really thinking he would somehow help? Did he plan to offer to hold Jonah while I helped with zippers and buttons? Perhaps he would like to give me a foot massage as well! Yes, Sir, please. I'd love your help. And when you are done here, will you follow me home and clean up my disastrous house while I nap?
We spent $32. That bought 3 pairs of pants, 2 dresses, 5 tops, a skirt, and a claw toy. We also staggered for the exit with two very ugly bears and a headache, all free.
As we stepped through the giant sliding glass doors, I heard a sound quite like an enormous sigh. It could have just been the whoosh of air as the doors slid closed behind us, but I swear it sounded like a store full of people breathing a sigh of relief.
OK, so we didn't get thrown out, but I don't imagine we'll be going back any time soon, either.