Today was Evas first Christmas party at pre-school and having hunted down the perfect little dress, all that was missing was the shoes. “I need red shoes!”, she repeatedly told me, “Red, shiny, party shoes!!”. And after desperately hunting on the internet, and failing massively, I faced the prospect of a very disappointed three year old, sulking in her beautiful new party dress with her big old winter boots.
And so I’m not sure if it was just a random moment of madness or the over-inhalation of too much PVA glue at playgroup, but for some reason unbeknown to man I decided that it would be a good idea to take all three babies Christmas shopping…..to the busiest of shopping centres……in December.
When I text Gaz to tell him my plan, along with, “It won’t take long, I’ll be in and out in no time”, and he replied with a laughing face emoji, I should probably have re-considered my plans and yet off we went and I asked myself, how hard could it be??
With Megan and Harry in the double buggy and Eva firmly at my side, despite having to queue for the lift and dodge our way through the crowds of people stood idly browsing the window displays, we were on a mission!! “I want my shiny, red, party shoes!!” Eva sang, closely followed by Megan, “Me want shiny, red, party shoes too!!!”. And as we zig zagged our way through the shopping centre I fully believed that we had this in the bag.
How wrong I was…
For a start, shops aren’t designed for double buggies at the best of times, but with all of the extra Christmas merchandise in the store there is literally no room to manoeuvre. Within seconds of hitting the first shop Eva had wrestled her sweaty little hand from my grip and was running wild prodding, poking, grabbing everything in sight. “Don’t touch that!!”, “Get back here!!”, “Look with your eyes!!”, I found myself screeching, “Stay where I can see you!”, “I’m phoning Daddy!”, “Father Christmas is watching!!”, I threatened. And the more she darted from shelf to shelf, leaving me behind as I struggled to ram the buggy through the narrow aisles, the more Megan screamed and cried from the confines of her pram, “Me want to get out too!!!”.
By the time we found the shoe department I was a sweaty, stressed out wreck and should have known that shoe shopping was by no means going to be a straight forward task. As my eyes desperately scanned the shelves for red shoes I almost whooped out loud when my eyes landed on a little red pair.
“There you go!!”, I told Eva as she sat on the floor, socks and shoes removed, desperately trying to buckle herself into a gold glittery sandal with a wedge heel, “Red shiny shoes!!”.
She raised her eyes briefly, a look of distain on her flushed face, “They aren’t shiny!!!” she said, and continued to struggle with the buckle.
“Yes they are! They’re really shiny!! And they have a little flower on the toe!” I continued, desperation creeping into my voice.
“Uh huh!”, she told me, not even looking up, “I want red, shiny, party shoes!”.
“Me want red, shiny party shoes too!!!!!”, Meggy screeched, “And me want to get out!!!!”.
And when all else fails, I did what any parent would do in the same situation. I resorted to chocolate. As I slammed three bags of chocolate coins down on the counter, Eva now jumping on a chair outside of the changing rooms, Megan still screeching to get out and Harry thrashing against his harness, I couldn’t get my money out fast enough. Within seconds of handing over the chocolate I realised my school boy error. Chocolate coins? A foil wrapped chocolate, sealed so tightly that they can only be opened by those with claw like talons and the patience of a saint to find the sealed edge?
“Open this one!”,
“No open mine!!”,
“No Megan! I asked first!”,
“Mummy! Eva looked at my coins!”,
And after that, on repeat, for what felt like five billion chocolate coins later, eventually as we marched through the shopping centre, I adopted selective hearing and Megan resorted to chewing on the foil.
As we made our way towards yet another lift, the headache from hell creeping in and my stomach beginning to rumble, I really began to wish that I had never promised her the shoes. Because pushing a double buggy with one hand while wrestling a three year old with the other is probably not my idea of fun. Between that and their kleptomaniac compulsions which saw them swipe anything they could get their hands on and try and eat it, wear it or hide it, we were a walking disaster. The children were, by this point, covered in melted chocolate, Harry was over-tired and crying, Megan was still screaming to get out and Eva relentlessly chanting, “I want red, shiny, party shoes! Red, SHINY party shoes!!”…..
And four hours later, FOUR long, long hours later, after three toilet stops, a leaking nappy, a much need Mcdonalds break (and an apparent life or death need for “chicken yogurts”), an accumulative hour spent waiting for lifts and half an hour returning all of the items that my children had stolen (A five pack of knickers, three bags of marshmallows, two Frozen baubles and a photo frame. No word of a lie.), we finally found the perfect shoes. Like a mirage in front of me, red, shiny, party shoes that my girls beamed with delight at, raced up and down the shop click clacking their heels on the floor and literally jumped for joy when I said we could buy them. And as I handed over my card with utter relief that our mission was complete, I promised myself that in future I would never leave anything until the last minute again!
And as we finally got back to the car, tired, aching, ready for home, as I lifted Eva into her car seat I felt a searing pain shoot through my hand, “What the hell?!”. And as I looked down at my bleeding hand, I realised that I had foolishly forgotten to check Evas pockets for all of her loot and she had infact pilfered a packet of illuminous pink loom bands, complete with a sharp, plastic hook which had literally piereced through the bag and into my hand. And as Eva screamed at the sight of the blood, Harry screamed at the sound of Eva screaming and Meggy stood up in the pram, screaming at those two screaming, the weight of her standing caused the pram to topple backwards onto the concrete and stood there, surrounded by ten thousand illuminous pink loom bands, I felt like joining in with their screams!!!
And all I could think was, these shoes better be worth it.
And so today, after an eternity of, “Is it time for my party yet?”, when it was finally time to leave for pre-school, Eva was literally beside herself with excitement. As she clip clopped down the drive way, admiring her shoes at every angle, she turned to me and said, “Mummy, I love my new, shiny, red, party shoes and I love you too!”.
And they were totally and utterly worth it.