One of the advantages of having more than one child is that the first one (or “practice child,” as those of us in the biz like to say) often teaches you valuable lessons. For example, letting my then ten-year old daughter pack her own bag once was enough of a lesson for me that not only did I never let her pack her own bag again, I also never let her younger brother pack his own bag even once—and I probably never will. (At least as long as I am the one who has to scramble around and make things right. I will never forget the joys of standing in line with a child’s swimsuit in a South Phoenix dollar store where every other person in line was carrying a different flavor of “fine malt liquor.” Apparently this dollar store also had a liquor license. And a sale. This all came about after I had discovered that the entirety of her “packing” for our summer resort vacation consisted of a floor length formal gown and one mitten. I mean, c’mon: even Ginger remembered to pack a hat when she set off on her “three hour tour.”)
It is because of this and other, equally appalling reasons (it took more than once for the lesson to really sink in) that I now insist on checking through every bag that my children supposedly “pack.” Some parents might do the same thing to check their bags for drugs and other illicit items—I do it to make sure that they contain more than one sock.
With Clyde, this level of paranoia has also extended to other sartorial occasions—to be precise, any occasion where he has to have a certain outfit at a certain time. Not only do I insist on seeing the outfit in its entirety (a sleeve waving to me from a partially cracked door is not enough—yes, I have fallen for that one before), but I also insist that the outfit be placed into a “clean room” until it is worn. (In this case, a “clean room” is just that—not a place where artificial heart valves are crafted, but rather a room that is actually “clean.” In my house, that means my bedroom—and my bedroom alone. And even then that is no guarantee the outfit will actually stay pristine. Thanks, cat.)
However, even with all of these hard-learned lessons in place, I can still be fooled. Which explains what I was doing in the men’s shirt section at Target two hours past my bedtime the other night.
First, just let me say: who knew that Target was so hopping so late at night? True, 90% of the customers seemed to be giggling NAU students trying to decide between pizza rolls and Hot Pockets, but still, it was at least busy enough that it made me regret my decision to go in my pajamas. (In my tired brain’s defense, Target really should have a Working Mothers’ Only Drive Thru. Or at the very least, curb-side service.)
It was telling, I think, that the two places in Target that seemed to have gotten the most action that night were the frozen snack attack aisle and the black dress shirt corner—although possibly the boxed wine section might have been pretty hard hit as well: for all I know the floor could’ve been lined with my fellow working mothers lying on their backs under the open spouts. It wasn’t like I was going to risk temptation by going over there to check.
In the end, of course, everything turned out fine: the dress shirt was procured, the munchies were sated (I assume), and the cashier at Target almost certainly went home and counted out her birth control pills.
And me? Well, I can tell you there is a new lesson I have learned: from now on I am going to start wearing my “dress pajamas” on the evenings before any of Clyde’s formal events.