On a warm, sunny April afternoon, back in 2007 (when My family and I lived in Charlotte, North Carolina) I loaded my boys into the minivan in hopes of tackling the buy one, get one half off sale at our local Payless Shoes Store. My boys went through sneakers at such a rate that taking advantage of a sale was the only way that I could keep them in shoes. Kevin was ten years old, Eric (aka Rocky) was eight and Marc had just turned five. As I write this I miss the pre Jordan and Lebron sneaker shopping days that were much easier on my wallet than they are today with a house full of picky, fashion minded teenagers.
When we arrived at Payless the parking lot was packed. Wow, this must be some sale I thought, forgetting that it was the Sunday before Easter. Once inside I noticed the store was filled with kids…little girls in their “Sunday Best”, straight from church hoping to select the perfect Easter shoes to wear on Easter Sunday. Charlotte is located in the bible belt where people take dressing up for church very seriously, I thought, but I was here on a mission to get my boys new sneakers.
Of course my excited boys went in three different directions scanning the racks of sneakers while calling out to me, “Mom, what size am I?” I struggled to help all three simultaneously, yet somehow managed to get everyone situated with a pair of sneakers to try on.
Kevin was being particularly selective as he had outgrown the appeal of the sneakers with popular Disney characters and super heroes. This was surely going to be Kevin’s last year of shopping at Payless Shoes.
As soon as I finished helping Rocky find the correct size, checking where his big toe was in his shoes and tying Marc’s sneakers, they both took off like a flash. They began running around the crowded and busy store, weaving in and out between the shoppers. I called theirs names to no avail and then resorted to chasing them both down, grabbing each one by the arm.
“Boys, you can not run around in the store!” I instructed.
“But Mom, we just wanted to see if our sneakers were fast enough…” Rocky replied.
“Well, obviously they are,” I stated. “No more running in the store. Let’s go find Kevin.”
To my surprise, Kevin had actually found a pair of sneakers that he liked and a second pair of shoes (Shoes that, unbeknownst to me, he would later glue wooden blocks onto to appear taller to a girl he liked).
Perfect, three pairs of sneakers, one pair of shoes, two pairs half price. I was aware that people were staring at us. I just wanted to get to the check out and get out of this crowded store.
The lines were long and I couldn’t wait until it was our turn to check out. Shopping with three kids was exhausting and I certainly had had enough. The boys put their shoes on the counter. Finally. It was almost over. As the cashier rang up each item, I watched to make sure the second pair of shoes rung up at half price. I paid, completed the transaction and turned to hand the boys the pile of bags.
They were nowhere in sight.
Oh God, where are they? “Kevin, Rocky, Marc!” I yelled directing everyone’s attention to me. I paused to slide my bank card into my wallet.
When I looked up, there they were. Kevin, Rocky and Marc standing at the front of the store with purses hanging on each of their bent arms and peds stockings over their heads and pulled down over their faces.
What in God’s name? They looked like they were about to rob the place. It crossed my mind to just pretend I didn’t know them…that they weren’t MY kids. Nah, too late, there wasn’t a person in the store that didn’t know that I was their mother.
I dragged an armful of bags off of the counter as I approached my boys.
“What are you doing? Take those peds off of your faces!” I demanded.
“What are peds?” Rocky inquired.
“Peds are small stockings that cover your feet so you can try on shoes if you’re not wearing any socks,” I heard myself say.
The boys stared at me as if what had I said made no sense. Never mind.
“But they’re free!” Marc blurted out.
Kevin added, “Yeah, they have little boxes of them at the end of every aisle.”
As they began taking the peds off, I noticed that not only were the purses that they were holding stuffed with peds, so were all of their pockets.
“And put ALL of those back!” I ordered as the show came to an end and the crowd of onlookers began to disperse.
When we got finally got in the car I said, “Well I guess we won’t be shopping at Payless again,” as I turned the key to the ignition.
“Thank God,” Kevin mumbled.
“Why not?” Rocky asked. “It was fun! I like that store!”
“Me too!” Marc replied.
I didn’t answer. In fact I didn’t say a word.
My Life, I swear…