Yesterday we had an intervention.
Despite our best efforts, and for lack of any other options, we were forced to evict the long-beloved bath ducks from their home. It was an emotional scene, let me tell you, but I just couldn't have them bringing that mildew under my roof any more and as much as I begged and pleaded, they just wouldn't get clean.
Then we went to Target.
I have a theory that shopping with small children is what really separates the wheat from the chaff, parentally speaking. It requires strategy, forethough, quick thinking, unflappable negotiating skills and physical and mental agility. And that's just to get them from the car to the parking lot.
So the deal (highly unoriginal, I know) is that if they're *really good* they can choose one thing to bring home from the store. And I have veto power over what they choose. Yesterday I vetoed a $35 talking stuffed animal, sparkly permanent markers and chewing gum.
Normally the veto is no problem, but occasionally I feels pangs of guilt, like the one time when F fell in love with an enormous pool noodle that had a seahorse head on the end. On the one hand, it was a harmless toy and kind of sweet looking in a 6' floaty noodle kind of way. On the other hand, knowing F, she'll want to feed it dinner and take it for rides in the car, and take it in the tub and have me dry it off with a special towel and tuck it in bed with her.
She gets very attached. Better to cut things off early.
Finally, we finished shopping (aka saw K's fourth attempt at throwing herself out of the moving cart as the writing on the wall and called it a day) and circled back around to the super discount section. Miracle of miracles, there were 4 bath toys for $3! Talk about timing!
In these situations, F serves as K's proxy for choosing the toys, not because K doesn't have opinions but because I can only deal with so much negotiating and if I never let on that K has a choice, she's just as happy that she got anything. Don't feel too bad for her, she'll grow out of it any minute and I'll be forced to reckon with the both of them. Live in the moment, that's what I always say.
So, F could choose two duck sets or two frog sets, or one of each. She chose two frogs, immediately named them and started telling me all about their complex relationships, including one who couldn't remember if he had a sister. Poor little guy.
Once home, she was apparently still mulling over her choices because she made the following startling announcement:
F: We should go back to Target and steal some of those ducks.
I'm sorry, what?! My precious child, a thief?! Surely not. Surely. NOT. How does she even know what stealing is? OH, maybe she thinks it is just, like, picking up or something...you know, acquiring...like how we say that Ulrich von Dog is stealing the food off her plate...right?
So I launched into a gentle lecture.
Me: No, baby, I don't think that's a good idea. If we need some ducks we'll go back to the store and buy them. When you're at a store, you have to pay for things at the checkout before you can take them home. It's bad to take things you haven't paid for, and it makes people very angry when you do it. You always have to pay for things at the store.
At this point I expected her to say something reassuring like "Oh, ok, then let's go buy some ducks."
F: I don't like paying for things.
Me (betraying a certain alarm): WHY?!?!
F (shrugging): I just don't.
How could this possibly be? F is brilliant, I assure you, but she has no idea how to count money and has never paid for anything in her entire life.
I guess at this point I just have to up my game: if I thought shopping with two toddlers was bad, now I get to try it with one who has (extra) sticky fingers.