Last week I decided to take the three older kids to the bookstore.
When I told my wife what I was planning she said, “Wow, ok. Are you sure you want to do that?” I should have known then that I was biting off more than I could chew, but I did not pick up on her subtle clue that I was outside my mind. I wanted to give her and the one-week-old a little bit of peace and quiet for a little bit, and I kind of wanted to get a new book for myself so off we went.
Just as everyone was loading up in the van my sleep deprived brain began working just well enough to remember that the two older kids needed to go to the bathroom. I’ve made my feelings about taking kids to a public restroom known before, and I didn’t want to have to try it with three kids, so I took the four-year-old Ballerina in to go potty at the house. The six-year-old Zoologist swore that he had just gone and did not need to go again. My last words before pulling out of the driveway were, “Are we sure we are good? I do not want to have to take anyone to the bathroom at the bookstore.” As I am sure you can guess, this will come up again later.
On the way to the bookstore the twenty-one-month-old Demolitions Expert realized I was wearing a hat. She is obsessed with hats. Actually, she is obsessed with lots of things. Her grasp of the English language is almost freaky. She frequently speaks in words and sentences, and she occasionally tells knock-knock jokes. Her conversational bread and butter, however, is to pick out a word that expresses what she wants or feels and to just repeat said word until you surrender. She spied my hat, and just kept repeating “HAT! HAT! HAT!” until I took off the hat and handed it back to her. Then, approximately . 07 seconds later she said, “Here you go,” signifying that she was now through with the hat. I reached around my seat and took the hat back, only for her to start up again with “HAT! HAT! HAT!” Once again I handed my hat back to her, and once again in less time than it takes for a politician to do something unethical she said, “Here you go.” I reached back and took the hat for a second time, and she responded by saying “HAT! HAT! HAT!” This is where I grew tired of the game and refused to play along.
We got to the mall, where the Barnes and Noble we were going to was located, and the kids were incredibly excited to park in a parking garage. It is funny what things they find awesome and wonderful. I was just happy to get a front row spot.
We walked in the door, and I was already having to lay down the law. I get that bookstores have had to diversify, and make some changes to survive, but is an entire toy store really necessary inside the bookstore? And yes, I understand that many of the toys are supposedly “educational,” but are you a bookstore or a Toys R’ Us? Almost immediately someone asked, “For our one book you said we could get, could we get a toy instead?” The answer was no. We were there to get books, not toys.
After navigating our way past the in-store toy bonanza we arrived at the expansive children’s books section. The Zoologist sprinted off to the animal section. I don’t know if he remembers where it is located, or if he has some type of pigeon-like homing sense that allows him to find it, but in less than a minute he reported back with a book about sharks, that will fit in nicely with the other half dozen or so books on sharks he already has, most of which are stored on his bed. Between all the toys and books I don’t know how he fits on his bed, but I’m getting away from the topic at hand.
At first, the Demolitions Expert hones in on a board book about farms. She sees the book, picks it up and begins to repeat one of her favorite mantras, “COW! COW! COW!” Two out of three were done, and now for the Ballerina, who is in one of her, “I won’t be able to make up my mind until college” moods. While I am urging, exhorting, cajoling, and occasionally threatening the Ballerina to make a decision the Demo Expert decides that she would rather have a book about Snoopy. I’m pro Snoopy so I’m happy to support this change. I guess I’m really pro Charles Schulz, after all he gave us this great quote about writing:
“It's hard to convince people when you're just staring out of the window that you're doing your hardest work of the day. In fact, many times when I'm just sitting here thinking and therefore working like heck, I hear the door open and I quickly grab the pen and a piece of paper and start drawing something so that people won't think I'm just goofing off and anxious to have a little chat.”
With Snoopy now firmly the Demo Expert’s choice I finally get the Ballerina to choose a Pinkalicious book she doesn’t have, and now I am hopeful that I can possibly find a book for myself.
Alas, it was not to be, because as we were leaving the children’s section the Zoologist announced, “I need to go potty.” As you can probably guess things began to unravel quickly. First, I made the ill-fated decision to go to the second story of Barnes and Noble via the escalator rather than the elevator. I completely forgot what it is like take one small child up an escalator, and for some reason I attempted it with three. Somehow, and I can only attribute it to guardian angels, we all made it to the top of the escalator alive. The Zoologist went to the bathroom, and as we turned our attention back to the bookstore.
It was at this point that the Ballerina said, “I have to go potty now.” I stood there for a moment and looked at the stacks of books the way that Tom Hanks’ character looked wistfully out the window of Apollo 13, and then I calmly announced, “I hope you can hold it until we get back to the house.”
The Zoologist is old enough to go in by himself, but there is no way I was going to help the Ballerina go potty while the Zoologist and Demolitions Expert ran wild in the bathroom. We paid for our books, and made our way quickly home.
Someday soon I’ll go back to the bookstore to find a book.