Most people despise the thought of back-to-school shopping. I don’t. I enjoy it. The academic in me gets all giddy at the chance to choose the right bag of college ruled loose leaf paper and the perfect writing pen. Plus, I pass down another thing I enjoy to my children.
Rule 1: DO NOT take them all at the same time. I take my kids’ school shopping individually. I call it “Mom and [insert child’s name] Day” because I am uncreative. I have other Mom and Kid days throughout the year, but I super enjoy the back-to-school shopping. We start out early, get the supply list taken care of first, and then it’s off to have fun.
I like to take them individually for the one on one time, of course, but I am always surprised by who they are when it’s just the two of us, and how much they’ve changed since the last outing. They somehow seem so much more mature when they are alone with me than when their siblings are there. Even Z at six-years old turns into a gentleman – opening doors, holding my hand, pushing the cart – and his conversation skills surprisingly improve (this makes my heart flutter).
Rule 2: IT’S THEIR DAY, so make it about them. They get to pick where we have lunch, and I get to pay. Then we do some clothes and shoe shopping and end the day doing something out of the ordinary – taking pictures in a photo booth, going to the library and picking out books to read together, riding the carousel in the mall, etc.
For Pre-K and Kindergarten Mom and Z Day, he took me to McDonald’s, but this year he showed some maturity and took me to Arby’s. I was so proud! He is turning into one classy dude. He allowed me to do the ordering, the paying AND the filling of the drinks – such an evolved man. He did help me to realize just how much I love him when, after filling our cups, I turned to find him notstanding behind me. Or beside me. Or sitting at a table. Or crawling under a table. My heart sunk and evil, evil thoughts of what could have happened to him instantly flooded my mind when a lady eating her lunch gently said, “I think he went into the bathroom.” My eyes shot to the men’s restroom door, and I wished for that one second I could burn a hole through it with flame-throwing vision (I considered writing laser beam vision, but it didn’t produce the full emotion of a mother who cannot find her child and the magnitude of destruction about to ensue if said child doesn’t instantly appear. Whatever object is in the way of direct eye contact of said child must be removed with such unadulterated fury that the very earth stops rotating from the pure, awesome power of the event. A laser beam is too exacting and not enough stuff exploding. Plus I like the idea of walking slow-mo through a wall of smoke and falling debris to retrieve my lost child. That’s cool.). While I was staring at the door and watching in my mind’s eye the destruction unfolding, a man walked out of the bathroom and the door closed just slowly enough for me to see Z’s flip-flopped toes under the stall. Whew! One more second and the entire Arby’s would have been completely decimated.
My thoughtful and mature Z, not wanting to bother me while I was getting drinks, shuttled off to the bathroom. All by himself. Because he’s six now. He came out of the bathroom with a happy little bounce to his step and asked, “Where do ya wanna sit?” He was quite proud of himself.
We did have a delightful lunch and then headed over to Target for clothes. Z is in that stage where he is not interested in picking out his own school supplies, and he doesn’t much care about the clothes. Shopping with him consists of me asking, “Which of these do you like?” And Z saying without even a sideways glance, “That one” with his little finger pointed at a random spot in the air. He just wants to get to the fun.
And fun we had! With the essentials out of the way, he headed to the toy section where he explaining to his out of touch mother how The Monster Fighter LEGO sets are far superior than the regular car and airplane sets. He searched for new hoola hoops (he’s up to spinning three at a time and thinks it’s time to add a fourth) and tested skateboards, determining the Razor Ripster is what he needs. He tried convincing me that the pivoting deck will help him with his balance. I wasn’t falling for it.
While I was checking out the scooters (Christmas is right around the corner), I saw Z disappear two aisles down. A moment later he was shouting excitedly that I had to come over there and “check this out.” I got the camera on my phone ready to take a picture of whatever it was, so I wouldn’t forget by the time I started Christmas shopping.
I turned down the aisle and this is what he had found:
He growled at me while I took the picture and snarled, “I’m so angry!”
I texted the picture to my husband. He replied, “He looks different. Did you get his teeth cleaned?”
Target also had Hulk Hands, complete with smashing sounds, but they were in a box. Crap. I really wanted a picture of those gigantic hands on his spindly little frame. I hated telling him we couldn’t get it, but there is always Christmas. There is always Christmas (can you tell I’m a mom that loves to buy for her kids?).
I live for these silly, innocent moments fueled by sheer excitement. They are pure bliss.
I love school shopping with my kids. I can’t wait until next year.