I never shoplifted as a kid. Well, maybe just this one time when I saw these shiny, ah-MAZE-ing colored pebbles. I didn't understand that they had to be paid for. Or maybe I did, and I just really wanted them. Nonetheless. They were small. I put them in my pocket.
Thinking my mom would share in my newly stolen pebble bliss, I showed them to her when we got home (like I said, they were amazing). And back to the car we plodded; we drove to the store, and my mom had me present the pebbles to the cashier and tell her what I did. I don't remember the details of the exchange as much as the feeling of my cheeks exploding with fiery humiliation. (Do you remember this, Mom?)
And now, on with the point of this post.
Baby Carter has a thing for apples. As in, he digs them like a normal kid would regard his favorite teddy bear. He gets his apple fix from clenching the entire thing in his hands, biting off bits of skin, chewing on it like jerky and then eventually spitting it out (it's as close to healthy as we get these days, don't judge). Every day after breakfast, he toddles over to the section of the kitchen with the bowl of fruit, points up and asks for a pah-pah. The pah-pah gets lovingly carried around and gnawed on sporadically throughout the day.
So, you can imagine the kidonchristmasmorningjoy that flooded his eyes when we rounded the corner at Target the other day, and there lay before our tired shopping cart a shiny heap of hundreds of carefully placed apples. An apple was fully expected in those hands, pronto.
And now you're me. Your baby's ten minute shopping cart limit fuse blew five minutes ago, and he's been making weird dog-ish growling noises in between shrieks that would translate to Shopping carts SUCK, Mom! if you slowed them down on a record player. You aren't sure exactly if he ate two - or was it three - bites of cheese for lunch. He's been standing up in his seat attempting to surf shopping cart waves. He claws at your face when you try strapping him in. You hand the baby a friggin' apple right off the top of that display.
And stillness. And silence.
On this day, I felt like the mother of a toddler for the first time. You do things - anything that works - to help yourself, your baby and your situation because you know that, if anyone dare take the time to ask you to explain your story, they will understand. Because most people can excuse whatever minor rule breaking that's transpired as soon as they see your lovebug throwing razors and bottles of shampoo out of the cart.
Now don't get me wrong, I wiped the apple, peeled off the sticker and fully intended to pay for it when we went to check out. I even thought it was a fairly cute story ... my little baby didn't urgently need some toy or ball; he was sitting, plumply nibbling on an apple. People marvel over Carter. The apple just adds a little hilarity to his cuteness.
We reunite with Matt from across the store and discuss the lifesaving properties of apples. We peruse the baby aisle then make our way to the cashier.
Ah, that cashier. Oof. She eyes Carter and his hamstered-up apple. Not a smile, not once. Matt points to the apple and tells her we'd like to pay for it. We wait for some sort of appreciative regard. Maybe not even a smile at this point, just politeness. She asks for the apple's sticker and, of course I don't have it. Our entire little family gets directed some sort of annoyed frown/blatant eye-rolling combo. I was blank. I couldn't believe the display I'd just seen from what was supposed to be another human. And over a baby with an apple.
Matt apologizes, I'm sorry, my baby was hungry.
She stares and introduces a purposeful, uncomfortable silence into the mix.
You can charge me a dollar for the apple, if you want, he offers.
She turns to the register, and charge a dollar, she did.
I stood there, wishing I'd never learned my pebble lesson and pawned that ridiculous apple off as a snack I'd brought from home in my purse. Wishing I could borrow the stupid apple from my freakishly possessive baby and throw it at her frown-furrowed head. I would have had to change my tally to 2 shopliftings/lifetime. And maybe spend a night away from Carter. It so would have been worth it.
We carted our goods out to the parking lot, and Carter's apple gets tossed to the pavement.
You win, Carter. You win.