I do some consulting for the company I worked for before I had the girls. Yesterday morning I had a conference call. Now, these conference calls are few and far between. When they pop up, I schedule them after breakfast and before lunch, during the first play time of the day. Normally, the girls are totally oblivious to the fact that I'm on the phone.
Yesterday it was mass whining, wanting everything they can't have, wanting to be on my computer, etc. I blame the full moon. The call wasn't going to be long and I got testy, snapping a few times to "JUST PLEASE GO PLAY!"
After the call I suggested we head to the mall, where they love to explore. It was gorgeous out, I had a couple quick errands to run and wanted to check out a cardigan at the Banana Republic Power Lunch sale. Then the next bout of chaos ensued.
My almost-4-year old, Angle Face, has outgrown her sandals and I pulled out a larger pair waiting in the wings. She devolved into a demon, throwing the mother of all tantrums of her young life. And I didn't give in. I hate giving in to tantrums AND she has to come to terms with the fact that for the next many years, she will regularly outgrow clothes and shoes. Wishful thinking led me to believe if I had the big battle once, I'd avoid future battles over too-small items.
I dug in my heels. So did she. I cajoled, I reasoned, I ordered. She screamed, cried, and flopped around. I yelled. There were swats and time-outs. The twins joined in the fray, getting frustrated that we weren't leaving and this was all taking so long.
Two hours later we were finally loaded up. Correct-size sandals still on the feet but hard feelings all around. After those crazy episodes quiet down, the reflecting moments always come. You think about how you could have handled it better, what you did wrong, what you'll hope to remember to do the next time. To regain a happy atmosphere, I suggested we get suckers at the mall. They love going to Kara's Chocolates and choosing a sucker from their big glass jars. It was so much fun hearing each girl ask the other girls what flavor they were going to choose.
"I want Woot Beer!"
"I want pink-lellow-lellow!"
"I want geen and balana!"
We all chose about 8 different flavors during the discussion, laughing and happy again. We skipped into the mall in our long, hand-holding line. We hit the Banana Republic right next to where we entered, 5 minutes before the end of the Power Lunch 40%-off sale. On the first table by the door was the cardigan I wanted to evaluate. Right on top was my size! I grabbed it and headed straight back to the dressing rooms. We didn't even shut the door. I just dropped the diaper bag, slipped the sweater on over my shirt, "Looks great! Let's go!", and headed for the registers, not checking out anything else.
Already at the register was a woman, maybe 40-something, with her teenage daughter. They were working with the salesgirl on what sounded like the transfer of some items from the larger Banana Republic north of us. Being on hold with the other store, the girl waved me forward. We were on a roll! I plopped down the cardigan and zipped open my bag for my wallet. The wallet that wasn't there. The wallet, I realized in a sickening flash, that was sitting at home by my computer. And no cash for the suckers. My hands flew to my face in shock and I told the girl I'd forgotten my wallet. She said, "Oh don't worry! We'll save it for you and honor the sale price." I didn't care about the sweater. I cared about those suckers. The woman next to me said, "Dang that is SO frustrating! I hate when that happens." I laughed and answered, "I know! And I almost never carry cash anymore and promised the girls suckers. It's going to be a fun fight when we walk out this door." And we both laughed, mother's who've been there, done that.
As if on cue, all three girls started asking about their suckers. I leaned over and told them, "We have to go get some money first. Mommy forgot her wallet but we'll get a treat." Now, I live a solid chunk of miles from this mall. We weren't coming back that day.
I then turned back around to find the woman holding a bundle of $1's. "I'd love to get your suckers for you. How much are they?" I resisted. (My girls would survive just fine.) She insisted. (She's a mom. She knows the value of promised treats.)
So I accepted the dollars and, very teary eyed, led my girls out.
Three rainbow-stripe watermelon suckers later, we were motoring back to the Banana Republic. Luckily, she was still there. I handed her the change and each of my three girls very sweetly said, "Thank you for my sucker!" I also thanked her profusely and she said, "I hope you have a better day." We definitely did. She saved it and we ended it great. I was so glad I'd let her help us. It was the most valuable $2.56 that woman has spent in ages.
The minute we got home I found five dollars and tucked them into a pocket in my diaper bag. I'm now on the hunt for the next mom in need of her own Sucker Moment.
When I find you, please let me pay this forward.