Today I did something I dread, something I really hate to do.
The kids and I had to go to Wal Mart.
Don't get me wrong, I used to love Wal Mart as much as anyone. For some reason, though, our last two duty stations have been near stores that are perpetually crowded and dirty. The shopping carts are rusted together, and the sock department smells like a fart. I try to avoid it whenever possible.
Today it was not possible. We had to (cue Psycho music) go Back to School shopping.
It is a bit early to go BTS shopping for most, but we home-school our children. I like to start the school year a bit early so that we can take a month off for Christmas. By December my nerves are frayed to the last thread and I need that break. Also, I have to finish my planning for the school year, and that requires having school stuff on hand.
The last three years we've gone to Target to get our stuff, but this year Wal Mart was having better sales. We headed off; kids singing and excited, mom apprehensive and filled with an ominous sense of doom. And that sense of doom is just wrong - school shopping should be a joyous time for parents. True, my children don't go elsewhere for school, but it still occupies them all day. During the summer they just leach off my energy like Karmic vampires.
"Mom, I'm bored!"
"Mom, can I eat your ice cream treats?"
"She hit me!" "He breathed on me!" "She's using my pencil!" "I DON'T WANT TO WATCH BEN 10!"
"Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom!"
By the middle of August I'm usually possessed of a huge grin as I present their math texts to them along with nice complicated assignments that require them to work quietly. Then I go soak my feet and relax in the relative calm.
It is by looking forward to this future that I am able to brave Wal Mart for school supplies.
I would like someone to explain to me why the school aisle was full before July is even over. I think other parents were trying to get in early before all the good stuff was picked over. I can understand that. I know my son would just not be able to handle a school year without a Spiderman notebook.
Anyway, I went with a list, so there was minimum straying from our budget. And it wasn't quite as crowded as usual, so there was only one incident where someone buying wheeled luggage smashed into my son and kept going.
A well placed, "I guess SOME PEOPLE'S parents didn't bother with MANNERS!" in her general direction was obviously heard because she turned around and glared at me. Geez, chick, how hard is it to say "excuse me"? And why is it that manners seem to wait patiently outside the door at Wal Mart instead of accompanying people in?
Also, for the record, I don't think Wal Mart is stocking any clothes that aren't emblazoned with Hannah Montana this year. Not even for little boys.
Air Force Guy asks every year why I am not going to the BX for BTS shopping. I do go to base for whatever I can; I appreciate being able to shop with "my people" in a place where I know the rules and I know what is expected of me. But I have yet to see a BX/PX/NEX with the large and luscious BTS offering that major department stores can produce. That's like going to see Santa and sitting on the lap of an Elf instead.
The funny thing is, I do feel kind of guilty for "cheating" on the BX this way. I'm sure I'll get over it, though. As soon as school starts and my kids are sitting quietly with their worksheets and I'm enjoying my first cup of non-stressful coffee of the season.