Yesterday we went school shopping at the Mills. With four kids? Yes, I'm daring like that. By yourself? Yes, I'm crazy like that. We hit 5 stores, the food court, and then the play area and pet store too for good measure. Trips like this always begin with a good "talking to" in the van on the way there. It's more like manifesting destiny for me--if I say it, it will be true.
The "talking to" goes like this:
Well, girls, lets have fun today! We are going to do TONS of shopping. You need to stick by me so I don't lose you in the store. I would be very sad and cry if I lost you forever. Please don't whine, complain, fight or cry. If I hear anything like that we will do an about face in the store and go home. We won't be buying anything if that happens. Let's try to get the most for our money, look for signs that say sale! We don't want to waste our money! Ready for some fun? Okay team, BREAK! (I say that last part in my head)
The shopping trip went well. I got shoes for all the girls and an outfit for each of them. But somewhere something went awry. We were standing in line for what passes as Chinese food when something caught my eye in the bottom of the stroller. It was a cute little denim skirt that I had shown to Olivia in H&M. We didn't buy anything there, just browsed around with the intention of buying.
But here was the skirt.
Excuse me, I said to the teen behind the counter. We need to make a return.
Livi, did you put this skirt in our stroller?
Yes! She said
You can't do that, Livi. That's stealing! We have to pay for things we want from the store! Do you want mommy to go to jail? I half expected her to say yes, because she says stuff like that now that she is a sassy four year old. (Looking back, I think I was a bit harsh. I was embarrassed. Jordan--cautious and sensitive child that she is was on the verge of tears. Ava--was busy admonishing Livi too. And Livi was a little stunned because I know she didn't intentionally try to steal that skirt. It was just a little mishap.) But I had to take the skirt back and I figured it was a teachable moment.
When we walked into the store, there was no employee in sight. Great, I thought, they are scouring their video footage in the back trying to I.D. the shoplifting mother. Finally I found someone on the Grown Up side of the store. I approached her with my remorseful looking brood (you have never seen so many puppy dog eyes).
I could have just walked back into the empty store, returned the skirt to its rack and gone back out, but this seemed too easy. Shouldn't being caught stealing be less anti climactic than that? I literally had to scour the store to find an employee to play a role in this cautionary tale. And when I did find her, I wasn't even sure what to do. This was a weird moment for me. What exactly do you say when your four year old unintentionally shop lifts? I don't even remember what I said but it was awkward. The clerk was caught by surprise too, but she was quite forgiving and played along with my idea about the "teachable moment." She accepted Olivia's sheepish apology and added an admonishment about getting in trouble with the police or some such. Olivia promised to never ever do it again, as did the other girls.
Glad that THAT unpleasantness was over, it was off to lunch where the memory of sticky fingers Livi was quickly replaced by sticky fingers of another variety, the kind that wet wipes can easily fix.
...mm mm...fake Chinese food.
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