Riding Out The Summer…

By my reckoning, today August 12, 2011, is the day that my town broke the Summer vacation barrier. I don’t say this because we’ve finally arrived at a consistent weather pattern that includes sun (this is Portland after all) I’m saying this because I don’t think that longsuffering moms can take much more Summer break.

I spent the morning in places that moms do, Grocery stores and Target. It was utterly macabre.

During the school year, a Friday morning at Target is usually a collection of the chipper and hipper moms prepping for the ubiquitous weekend soccer games and dinner parties.

By mid-August those days are long gone.

A mid-August trip to Target on a Friday morning is a disconcerting blend of aggressively solicitous children tended by the walking exhausted, desperately seeking some quality “alone time.”

By mid-August the family trips have been completed, the grandparently visits are finished, and every church but the Amish have completed their Vacation Bible School programming. Without a sports camp or a school carnival in sight, the exhausted mothers are left to wrangle the final two weeks of Summer without an ally or respite.

Women who formerly spent their mornings in productive, if not life giving, activites like laundry, tax preparation, and scheduling, have discovered that their lives have now faded to a listing meander.

It’s like watching a Spanish galleon, stilled by an arid doldrum, get boarded by miniature pirates.

Target seems to be the only place open at 8 A.M. that can provide some sort of diversion for a mother with children in the pre-teen age bracket. Where else can you get poorly prepared Starbucks coffee, a personal pan pizza, and popcorn at the same counter?

The 45 minute stay at Target starts at “Food Avenue” then winds its way through EVERY aisle at an estimated speed of 3mph. The smart mom pushes the limits of how much store she can take in BEFORE visiting the toy aisle because after you’ve been there, there’s no bargaining chip left in your arsenal:

“If you guys don’t settle down we’re not going to the toy section!”

The time spent pre-toy aisle is emotional and mental prep for the time spent in the toy aisle, because no matter how many times they say “We’re just looking today” they are still about to be bombarded by beseechment.

When you see a mother and her 3 children in the toy section, you are looking at someone who’s just gone “shields up” to the world, so it’s best to just leave the judgmental attitude and second guessing at the men’s clearance rack because they’re about helpful as the repackaged Merona boxer briefs that they’re offering over there.

In the toy section you aren’t looking at the woman as she is, you are looking at her as she must be. That’s why she’s dressed for suburban battle in her bejewelled “Rage Against the Retail” Castro cap and Sketcher’s Shape Ups.

The things that she is capable of while wearing this outfit are as numerous as they are spectacular. I’ve seen a mother wrestle an electronic hamster from her child while price-scanning a scented candle as she talked on her iPhone… without a bluetooth headset!

You can excuse her if you overhear her telling the kids that they can’t buy anything today because, “Daddy looks like Frankenstein when he finds mommy’s receipts”.

The journey through the store ends with the checkstands or as I call them, “The Gauntlets of Candy and Movies.” The geniuses at Target have cleverly placed bags of low priced candy and $5 children’s DVDs at every checkout exit of the store.

It’s in this place and time that a woman who has told her children, “No” so many times that she no longer even hears them ask their repetitious questions, finally says “Yes”.

She doesn’t say “yes” to their demands for Lego or Bratz, in fact she doesn’t even say yes to THEM. She says “yes” to TWO boxes of Junior Mints and Shiloh because she’s saving herself.

She came into Target searching for some quality alone time and for $6.75 she bought herself an hour and a half of silence and a box of low calorie refreshment at a price that won’t turn anybody into Frankenstein.

I know because I watched it happen… twice.

Target Moms,
Keep on keepin’ on and share the love. Tell us how you manage your last two weeks of summer. Share your tips, tricks, and secrets. No judgement… unless you’re using the benadryl for “hay fever” naps!

6 Responses to “Riding Out The Summer…”

  1. JW August 12, 2011 at 4:06 pm #

    The mall is a big “Target” where they can run and sometimes there is a play structure. It’s free and there are pretzel bites!

  2. Sharon O August 12, 2011 at 5:45 pm #

    I laughed through this whole writing and wondered what kind of a vacation bible school would the Amish have??
    You amaze me each time I read your posts.
    This was a real funny one and true too :o)

    • Jon August 12, 2011 at 6:25 pm #

      I bet the crafts would be amazing!

  3. Joanna August 13, 2011 at 8:47 am #

    I’d like to suggest an Amish Vacation Bible School for moms, where we get to learn the crafts and the kids spend a week with no opportunity to plug in a gaming device of any kind. It’s harsh, I know, but it’s a dream…

    • Jon August 13, 2011 at 10:00 am #

      You are probably onto something here… I bet this could work. We’d probably have to fly out to Amish country though.

  4. Brian P August 17, 2011 at 7:51 am #

    Hey Jon, sounds like you saw Kerri and the girls at Target last week… :)

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