In our small town, Walmart is kinda like Rome. All roads lead to it. Scott and I usually go together, because each of us would rather pick out what we need than risk the other getting the wrong thing. So we load up ye old Suburban with the three kids, blue recyclable bags, Moby wrap, sippy cup, water bottles, snacks, and after a last shoe check to make sure nobody arrives barefoot, we set off.
This past Friday we weren't doing a 'big trip', where each of us takes a basket and we stock up on groceries for the next two weeks. We had just run in to get some sundries for the weekend. It was the end of a long day. Scott had risked going in his work clothes in order to save time. Usually, he changes into a t-shirt and a ball cap, in order to avoid awkward encounters with people whose loved ones he had incarcerated earlier in the day. The kids were hungry. We were rushing.
I had promised Xander that he and Sophie could pick out a Lunchable for dinner. This is a rare treat, since Lunchables make the kids hyper and usually don't fill them up enough. As soon as we entered the door, he was tugging on my arm. "Mom, can we go pick out a Lunchable?"
"No, son, we need to shop first. When we go near the Lunchables, then you can pick one out."
"But WHEN, mom? WHEN can I get a Lunchable? How many minutes?"
This is his new favorite question, and as a four year old has no concept of time, it seems rather pointless to me, but I answer anyway. "Twenty minutes."
"TWENTY MINUTES? Like, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 .... 11 .... 12 ... 15 .... 17 .... 18, 19, 20?"
"Yeah, like that. Come on."
We start our loop at the toiletries first, and by the time we've checked the store's ammo supply, he's already asked four more times, and I have to threaten peanut butter sandwiches for dinner if he doesn't start being patient.
When we finally get around to the deli section, where the Lunchables are displayed in a brightly colored array, we've already stopped three times to talk to someone we know, and Manasseh's drained his sippy cup and either eaten the crackers, or else dropped them in a trail through the store. I may or may not have kicked a few under some shelves on the way. The baby's starting to fuss, and I know we're pushing bed time.
"Xander! There's the Lunchables. Go pick yours out." He runs to the display.
Now, here's the thing about my oldest son. He is the most exuberant person I know, and throws himself passionately (sometimes this is a literal thowing) into everything that occupies his attention. He's also always been musical. I remember him tapping his matchbox cars against different surfaces to hear the sounds they made when he was barely crawling.
He accompanies himself, often loudly, with a soundtrack throughout his day. His favorite refrains are the themes of 'Super Hero Squad', 'Power Rangers', and singing, 'to the Lord!'. Each of these applies to different situations - if Xander's eating lunch, he'll absent mindedly hum, 'Super hero SQUAD!' to himself. If he's succeeding in something, he'll sing, "Go, go, big boy BIKE RIDE" (to the tune of Power Rangers). And if he's just accomplishing some every day task, he'll sing what he's doing, and add an enthusiastic, "To the Lord!" to the end of it. For example: "I love my friend ... to the LORD!", and, "I hit my sister ... to the LORD!"
This must have been a To the Lord moment, because Xander planted himself in front of the display case and sang, at full volume, "Lunchables! TO THE LORD!!! OHHHHHH YEAAAAHHHH!!!! TO THE LOOOOORRRRRD!!!!! I love Lunchables! TO THE LORD!" I was sure the people clear over in the dressing rooms could hear him.
"Come on, son, pick out your Lunchable. And turn it down a little."
Whispering now, "Oooohhhh yeah. I can eat a Capri Sun Lunchable ... to the Lord."
He and his sister finally picked out what they wanted, and we made a break for the checkout. We'd rounded the corner of the frozen foods, when Sophie let out a shriek and I heard a scattering, rattling sound behind me. Turning, I saw her standing in the middle of the aisle, with pearl beads bouncing and cascading rapidly around her in an ever widening circle across the white linoleum floor.
Sophie had chosen to wear her pearl necklace to the store that evening. When one is six and a half, one knows the importance of proper accessories when going out in public. This was a special necklace, made from pearls she had found on our beach trip last month. (What, did you not know about pearl nests? Apparently, you can find nests of pearls in the sands of beaches everywhere, with pearls conveniently pre-drilled for stringing. Sophie and her cousin went on a pearl hunt while we were on vacation and found six such nests amazingly close to the path we used to walk to the beach every day. Perhaps I'll write that story out soon - it bears telling.)
Anyways, she had strung her precious pearls and was wearing the necklace that night, when the fishing string had become untied and now we had a pearl emergency, in the middle of the Walmart frozen foods, with Lunchables quickly warming to room temperature and a one year old approaching critical melt down.
I couldn't just leave the beads on the floor, because besides the fact that I didn't want someone to slip on them and break a hip, Sophie believed they were actual REAL PEARLS, and she had found them with her cousin.
That is how I came to be on my hands and knees, with shoppers taking a wide birth around me, fishing pearls out from under a freezer with my 6- and 4-year-olds, while Scott watched the cart and blew raspberries on Manasseh's fat cheek.
Don't judge, ya'll. I'm a mom.