My husband and I aren’t big on PDA or any other public display of emotion. Still, there’s something about a family trip to Target that wears down our calm, cool exteriors. Obviously, doing anything with young kids requires a certain kind of patience, stamina and sense of humor. We bark at the kids, who are tussling with each other, and then whatever friction there might have been at the beginning of our day just blows up in the seasonal products aisle. I have had some pretty ridiculous fights with my partner at Target and, well, we should probably swear off big box stores for a while.
Target has literally everything. Having so many things in one place usually ends up meaning so many things can go wrong in a simple shopping trip. It never fails to be an overwhelming experience for one of us — a kid who can’t take hearing “no” after the umpteenth time begging for gum, a mom who insists the kids use the bathroom only to dry heave when getting hit by its smell, a dad whose patience runs out waiting for me to pick out all the birthday cards I think I’ll need for the coming year — so we rarely exit through the sliding doors in a peaceful fashion. We may have been able to cross everything off our shopping list (except for at least one item, likely the one we need the most), but my husband and I have also crossed each other.
Box store shopping is an aspect of our family life that doesn’t look to be going away any time soon. My husband and I will just do our best to tolerate the experience with each other, knowing that just the sight of a red bullseye might trigger yet another ridiculous fight, like one of these:
The One About Walking Down The Toy Aisle
If there is one section to avoid when shopping with children, it’s the toy aisle. I’ll never understand why my husband thinks our kids can handle a nonchalant shortcut past the tiny weaponized and accessorized dolls. Even when we are here, specifically to spend a gift card they received, the toy aisle delivers nothing but tears, shortchanged promises, and some kid wielding a lightsaber who thinks I am in the mood to play.
The One About Walking Down The Snacks Aisle
If there is one other section to avoid when shopping with children, especially if you’ve already spent all your energy hissing, “put that down, we’re not getting that” in the toy aisle, it’s the one stocked with the “hint of chemicals” chips and the footlong “fruit” leather.
Do not test your kids willpower in this aisle, because it will just lead to a spat with your partner about how you each handled snack denial worse than the other.
The One Where He Doesn’t Have Our Kids Try On Both Shoes
You are not born with this knowledge, but it’s not hard to attain: pairs of feet are not always the same size. How many more times must we purchase a six-dollar pair of jellies that end up only fitting my daughter’s right foot, until the whole family agrees to try on both shoes in the box? Or both shoes, from any box? Or maybe let’s just skip buying shoes at Target because they’re really more like one-month rentals, given the length of time before they start disintegrating.
The One Where I Put My Foot Down About Purchasing Furniture
I get the appeal of these prefab dressers. Unlike the ones sold at Ikea, they probably have the instructions actually written out. However, as tempting as it is to buy temporary kids’ furniture off this very empty, and dusty, shelf, we have to resist the urge.
I know Martha Stewart would probably not put her name on anything she didn’t deem simultaneously cozy, stylish, and space-saving, but this thing is barely sturdier than the cardboard box it comes in. Besides, it totally doesn’t go with all the Ikea furniture we bought that still has to be assembled.
The One Where I Make A Damn Good Case About Needing More Ice Cube Trays
OK, technically, maybe we don’t need them. However, the ones we have are so basic. For just $4.99, we can get butterfly-shaped cubes. True, we’re not fans of ice cold beverages, but it’s not a total splurge and I don’t think I’m being completely unreasonable about our grocery budget, since using ice cubes would actually prolong the life of a drink, and thus, cost us way less down the road. Gotta spend money to make money, as I will prove by this ice cube tray purchase.
The One Where We Swore The Other Person Had The Kids
This one is a doozy, starting out with white-hot incredulity at the other’s lack of attention, and ending in prolonged stinkeye once the kids are found thumbing through board books in the shopping cart we inadvertently wandered away from.
The One Where We Send Increasingly Aggressive ‘Where Are You?’ Texts
“I’m in the art aisle. Need to pick up a kid birthday gift.”
“Where is that?”
“Next to the linens.”
“Comforters? I’m in comforters.”
“We don’t need comforters!”
“I don’t want to be here. I’m looking for a a toothbrush holder.”
“Who needs that?”
"Never mind. Coming to you."
" … "
“Where are you??”
“I’m in comforters! Where are YOU?”
The One Where He Can’t Believe I Forgot The Coupon
Which is pretty much the only reason we are even at Target. My bad. No wait. Actually, is it really my bad? I mean, what’s stopping the other person from remembering the coupon, other than my carefully curated coupon folder that I let no other human being touch for fear of messing with my categorical organization?
The One Where I Insist On Stocking Up On Halloween Candy
In November. What I save in dollars, we may spend in upset tummies. It’s worth a risk. Lollipops never go bad.
The One That Is Simply A Byproduct Of Agreeing To Eat There
I have had pizza, mac-n-cheese and chicken(ish) things at Target. I blame this on my children, of course. I never feel better about myself after these lunches. I am irritable, sluggish, and more than a little sweaty. I believe dining in the “food court” (or “food corner”) at Target is beyond the scope of tribulations you vow to endure when you enter into a committed partnership. So for no good reason, all the bad feelings I eat inevitably get hacked back up in the form of obnoxious behavior towards my spouse. Sorry. It was the reheated corndog talking, dear.