I took my niece back to school shopping on Friday. At the end of the day my Tribe Counselor, uh, I mean BFF, texted and asked how the day had gone, here is my response. (I'm the BLUE.)
Let me start from the beginning...
I love to shop. I'm good at it. Really good at it. And if you tell me what you're looking for (i.e. work clothes, wedding clothes, a casual outfit), I'll find and put together pieces of clothing that you wouldn't have expected would go together. Cuz I'm just that good.
But on Friday I learned what I am NOT good at: Back to School Shopping. The shopping trip ended with three girls in the dressing room and all of us were crying. Like huge crocodile tears, snot and sweat kind of crying.
Karis is my perfect angel niece. I love her. I consider her my first born. She calls me her "other mama" (mostly because I boss her around, but I'll take the "AWE! How sweet." assumptions if you're willing to give them). Karis is six and a half (you have to throw in the "half" at that stage of life). Karis starts first grade tomorrow. I can't believe she's going to be in the first grade. It seems like yesterday that I watched her parents bring her "tiny" 9-pound body home from the hospital where she aptly lifted her head, looked around and smiled. Ten months later this precious little angel looked at me and called me, "Juju." And her Juju I became.
Karis' Mama is my younger and only sister, Jenni. Jenni hates shopping. Hates it. Like mother like daughter. Karis hates it also. You can imagine how painful shopping can be when the shopping-hating-Mom and the shopping-hating-daughter go shopping together. Someone might kill someone and tell God that someone died. Jenni came up with a solution and called Juju, "Will you please take Karis school shopping? I've got the money set aside, spend whatever, just make her buy clothes that she'll actually wear." Boom! Juju to the rescue. (Is anyone recalling a Proverb about pride coming before the fall?)
I thought it would be the perfect time to have an end of summer sleepover at Juju's house. Sleepover followed by a fabulous day of shopping and then the girls were getting their hair cut. The sleepover turned out really great. Everybody went to bed on time. Everybody slept. We wake up on Friday and I got a text from my Mom suggesting that we go shopping early. (I should know by now to take those "suggestions" from my Mother as wise counsel, but as usual I ignored it. Pride puffing up...a fall will ensue!)
I thought, hmmm, everyone slept good, we need to eat, and since I don't use my kitchen, why don't we go to McDonald's and let the girls run out some energy on the tubes while they graze a sausage, egg, biscuit and cheese? I called my friend who was sitting her nephew and it was now a date...a playdate. Boom! Best Mom and Aunt EVER. (The fall is just over the horizon.) McDonald's was a hit! The kids ran and played like wild banshees while my friend and I tried to eat breakfast despite the smell of feet and kid sweat.
Two hours later, I put two sweet little girls into my minivan and headed for the mall. Feeling very proud of myself for maneuvering the morning with such ease while taking care of not one, but two, children, I threw on my iPod and the girls and I began singing "God's not dead, He's surely alive!" I smiled proudly as I looked into the rearview mirror and reapplied lipstick when, as though everything had gone into slow motion, I saw to my horror that Emery was rubbing her eyes. When my child rubs her eyes it is the tell-tell sign that the end is nigh. Get her to a bed, crib or pack-n-play YASAP (yesterday as soon as possible)! (The fall is now minutes away!)
Fast forward...we are at the mall. Emery is doing something she never does; she is sitting in her stroller. I am walking so fast that Karis says, "Juju, slow down. My legs hurt." Crap. Don't slow me down, kid! We've got to get this thing knocked out before the little little turns into lucifer!
I head straight for Justice. If you have a girl from ages 5-12, then you understand that it's the only place to shop. And the entire store was on sale for like a million percent off (I don't do math). So we stroll into Justice, along with 75,000 other people. I start putting outfits together like a BOSS! "Karis, do you like this?" "Yes, Juju." BOOM! Over and over and over until IT happened. Emery turned around in her stroller and yelled, "MAMA! HOLD YOU!" That was it. The trumpet had sounded. I prayed for the rapture, looked around. Dang it. I got left behind! I took a deep breath and yelled to Karis, "GO, BABY! Go grab that dressing room NOW!" Karis's legs took off quicker than her eyes could catch up with where I was pointing, but that baby was running to the dressing rooms and she got the first empty one she saw. I slid in behind her, parked the stroller, locked the curtain in place and said, "Hurry, baby! Put this on!" At this point, Emery is crying and screaming. I prayed during my pregnancy that God would give Emmy healthy strong lungs. Boy howdy, did God ever answer that prayer! This child has got to be the loudest cryer ever in the history of cryers.
I unstrap Emmy. Put her on the little stool, while she claws at me trying to grab my neck so that she can hang from me like a monkey. Did I mention that she is still sobbing and screaming, "MOMMY! HOLD YOU, PWWWEEEEEEASE!"
Karis is nervous and embarrassed and says, "Juju, Emmy is still crying." Yes, yes she is. I smile weakly and say, "I know, just keep trying on clothes, we gotta get this done. We'll be finished soon."
Somewhere between eight and ten outfits later, Emery's freak out goes to another level. The level where it finally slices through all the layers of "calm and collected" that I had. I'm trying to help Karis put on very tight, skinny leggings and Emery is about to fall off the little dressing room stool because of her weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth, so I turn to Emmy to calm her, Karis begins taking off the pants and I just lose it. "Karis! Put the pants ON! Pull them up. You know how to put pants on. You dress yourself everyday. Put them ON!" I turn back to Emery who attaches herself to me and is now a monkey baby hanging from my neck but she's a quiet monkey. I take a deep breath and turn back to Karis who is standing there, back against the wall, hands raising up to cover her face...her face that is completely scrunched up into the sweetest, most precious "ugly cry" that I've ever seen. I grab her, "Oh, Karis! I'm so sorry! I didn't mean to hurt your feelings! Juju got flustered and frustrated because she couldn't help both you and Emery. I didn't mean to yell at you. Please forgive me."
This is the point where I pull Karis on my left hip, Emmy on my right hip, sit on the floor and we all cry.
(Stay tuned. I'll tell you the rest of the story later...)