Back-to-School Mad Moms

Yes, Tale Tues is tardy again.

Because on Tues I had a tantrum and tore the phone off the wall to hurl onto front lawn. Not as satisfying as an old cord phone which might have left a gaping hole and couldn’t so easily be rehung on its little wall clip:


And I'm tardy because dog ate the eye off this:


And the vet had to take an x-ray of stuffed Easter chick just in case. Instead of x-ray of dog – don't ask why, I don't know.

Anyway, the tantrum-phone-flinging makes for another tale, but the tale to tell is about back-to-school shopping Target moms.

Here’s the truth about us Target moms: in public we may try our damnedest to look normal – as if we would not yell at our kids, any more than we would spank their tender bottoms.

So under normal Target circumstances, a mom might be able to keep her cool trying to decide between a pink or sequined T-shirt for her preschooler princess who is grabbing up all the other T-shirts off a shelf. “Please put them back, sweetie.”

And if we get to the end of our Target straws, that very last one that we cling to for sanity’s sake, we might whisper with just a touch of sharpness into our angel’s sweet little ears, “Sweet Pea, (Pickle or Monkey) if you don’t put that back, you won’t get to go to Friendly’s after.”

Then we continue our Target meandering down aisles, smiles at the ready if we happen to run into mom friends we might share Starbuck moments with once kids are back in school.

Well, this may be what other mothers do. Not this Target mom. Either I don’t give a damn whether other moms think I’m the perfect cool-headed maternal type (nor do I share precious Starbuck moments), or I have no patience in the first place, the reason I might tear a phone off the wall and toss it onto front lawn. As I said that’s another tale.

My point is, I’ve always yelled at my kids in Target whatever reason or season, when they fight over the shopping cart, or toss into it things they don’t even care about like pine scented candles – the reason I no longer bring them along to shop at Target. Sadly, I sacrificed their camp time – my sacred summer alone time – to shop for school supplies.

Whether a cool-or-not-so-cool-headed Target mom one might be, the back-to-school is not normal Target shopping circumstances. Certainly not in that back-to-school section with neat bins of crayons, glue sticks and erasers, and stacks of marble notebooks.

A neatness that quickly is reduced to utter chaos. The neat bins are not nice and neat because kids pick up scotch tape rolls that moms then command “put that back it’s not on your list,” and they toss scotch-tape into glue stick bin. Folders once stacked according to paper or plastic or wild-animal decor, are mishmashed. Horrified young high school Target employees, in their brilliant-red Target T-shirts, try to restore order against the backdrop of mad moms’ cacophony.

This year, I got to witness what otherwise I would have missed because I would have been caught up in my own cacophony – moms yelling with unusual abandon, one more often carefully sequestered  behind kitchen and kids’ messy bedroom doors.

And these moms looked end-of-summer wretched. Either they’d pulled out the closest clothing item, a dirty wrinkled T-shirt and stained sweatpants from the hamper, or went to bed in the previous day’s clothes.

So there I was, calmly ticking off items from boys’ school lists, as the other children-clad moms balled their own lists into tight angry fists – as their angels fought over who got to push the carts, or tossed into it whatever struck their fancy, a flowered pencil case, pretty pencils not on school list.

And here’s what I heard:

Kid: “I want a yellow folder.”

Mom: “There’s none left you have to get blue or green, which is it?”

Kid: “I want yellow.”

Mom tosses blue one in cart. “You get what you get then.”

Kid throws into cart a yellow pencil case.

“You don’t need a case. No case on the list.”

“But I want something yellooooow.”

“Put that baaaaack.”

And all through Target the automated “put that back” was like seagulls squawking: put that back put that back put that back put that back put that back put that back put that back….

If a kid didn’t put that back: “Ok, you just earned a timeout as soon as we get home.”

Kid still didn’t put that back: “Ok, you just earned another timeout.”

Or:  “You just lost today’s computer time. You want to lose tomorrow’s too?”

One mom yelled down the looseleaf-paper aisle: “Where the hell you going?”

“Nowhere,” her son called back…as he kept going.

“Then why you hightailing it down to toy aisle? You don’t hightail it away from me. No computer time for a week, you hear?”

All over Target, kids were racking up timeout points and losing precious computer, Wii, Playstation, DS, iPad, iPhone, or Xbox time.

Target back-to-school crises: Only one Hello Kitty lunch box left and you have twin daughters who both want Hello Kitty lunch boxes; no more Batman or Spiderman thermoses. There’s one item left on your list that Target is actually out of, which means trudging to Staples which can be worse than Target, where you stand on long lines for a metric ruler.

Ordinarily the language we might try not to use  in front of our children is flying out of mommy mouths:

“Shut the hell up.”

“Damn it, stop it or…”

“What the F…”

Then there are moms who are mad at the school lists. ‘“What the hell are you going to do with seven marble notebooks?”

My favorite Target mad moment: I’d moved to the back-to-school clothing section, was trying to decipher sock sizes when from the underwear racks, I hear:

“Put that back.”

“But Mooooom, I need new underwear.”

“You don’t need new underwear. Just because they’re Spiderman doesn’t mean you won’t go home and find a stack of clean underwear in the ten loads of laundry I just did.”


“Put that back.”

“I need new underwear, I really do!”


“If I buy that pack of Spiderman underwear, and you go home and find ten pairs of clean underwear nicely folded on top of the laundry basket which you yourself can put away,  I’ll smack you across the head.”

They wheeled away but not before her yelling at the tippity-top of fathomless lungs: “I”m sick of this shit! Only two more damn weeks and you'll all be back in school!”

Oh my. I had to do something. I grabbed a couple of cheap teflon pots from the kitchen aisle and banged them together to get everyone’s attention.

Nearly teary-eyed moms thought I was nutty until I quickly announced my proposal: That we all needed cocktails. Vodka martinis straight up. Scotch on the rocks. At the very least, salted margaritas.

So dig into your purses, moms, pool whatever cash you have, and pay these nice albeit cacophony-stricken HS Target hard-working-trying-to-keep back-to-school-bins orderly employees to babysit our kids while we all go out to the closest TGIF even though it’s only Monday.

Moms dug into their purses and pulled out dollar bills, whatever they had, to add to the bucket I’d grabbed from the cleaning aisle.

The Target HS kids looked a bit stunned but readily accepted the cash, and we moms hightailed it out of there before the managers could figure out what the hell was going on, abandoning carts brimming with lunch boxes, marble notebooks, glue sticks, crayons etc. etc. etc. etc.

Within minutes, local Channel 12 news was on the scene to capture mad crazy moms marching out of Target at high noon, without even a thought to designating safe non-drinking drivers, because what mom was not going to want a drink?

As to all those abandoned carts of back-to-school supplies?

We don’t wanna to know.





What do you think?

Written by Sandra


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