Monday, April 28, 2008

"Control your young!" - Ricky Gervais

I really wanted to shout that line from "Night at the Museum" last night while I was at Target. Apparently Sunday evening is "loud, ill-behaved children" night at Target, because the place was packed with them.

I know my children aren't always perfectly behaved in public, but I do my best to teach them appropriate public behavior. They never run up and down aisles and get in peoples' ways. They don't scream and yell and pull things off the shelves. We've experienced a tantrum or two and some crying as a result of their being tired, but nothing that would cause other parents to look at me in dismay.

I'm also usually really forgiving of other parents and their children at stores. I know that most are in the same boat as I am - trying to get errands done despite the presence of tired, cranky kids. If I see that a mom or dad is trying to get a child to behave, or at least paying attention to the child's behavior, I'm extremely sympathetic. Once, in Toys'R'Us, I gave a mom whose child was having a meltdown over a toy she wouldn't buy him and sympathetic pat on the back and a consoling word. I'd been in that situation the week before over a DVD at Target.

This is NOT what was happening last night at Target. Kids, whole families' worth, were running loose, and the parents either weren't paying attention or were nowhere to be found. Kids were screaming and yelling, chasing each other through the aisles, throwing things off shelves, and just generally being destructive and awful.

I had been looking forward to a trip to Target without children in tow, but I ended up so frazzled by other peoples' kids that I fled the store without buying half the things on my list.

I was just stunned at the whole scene. I've been in stores with one or two kids who were being awful - like the time at Target when two kids, with their father's permission, were running up and down the aisles honking a very loud bike horn repeatedly. They were annoying enough that the store manager had to threaten the father with ejection from the store if he didn't make them stop. The father responded by cursing at the manager and security had to be called to defuse the situation.

But I've never seen a whole store taken over by parents and children who obviously had no clue about appropriate behavior. When I left, I looked for a charter bus or fleets of vans in the parking lot, thinking that maybe, just maybe, they'd all come together. I saw no evidence of it, though.

After Target, I met up with two friends for dinner at a local TexMex place, and I was really wishing I could have a margarita to recover from my shopping excursion. Iced tea just doesn't have the same calming properties as tequila and triple sec.

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