A few weeks ago, it became apparent Mac was in need of a new pair of shoes. Now, we hadn’t reached the critical point of having to fold his toes under his foot to get his current pair of shoes on, but we were getting close.
These sorts of purchases stress me out. I know my Husband wants the most economical option available. I want whatever feels best for the kid.
Of course, it’s difficult to gauge what feels best for the kid when his vocabulary is limited to approximately 40 words – most of which sound like “Shit,” “Fuck,” or the dreaded “C” word due to his still developing enunciation skills.
But still, I try. . .
So one Friday or Saturday afternoon, after some birding, Chris dumped me off at Target to pick up a few things while Mac napped in the car. Shoes were definitely on our list, although, not necessarily on our list of items to purchase from Target.
Still, since I had the luxury of being alone in a Target, I took the opportunity to peruse the kiddie shoe selection. There I stumbled upon the most adorable pair of miniature hiking shoes! They were brown. . .but not like gross brown. . .a nice shade. With all the bells and whistles of hiking shoes just like Chris or I wear. These even came with the cute little bungee cord laces with that little plastic toggle you can adjust to make the shoes tighter.
I could hear Chris’ voice in my head clucking at me. We could get some velcro sneakers for about $6 cheaper. . .But so cute! And practical. AND CUTE!!!!
I knew if I walked out of the store with these suckers, I had better have my opening arguments down cold. . .I inspected the shoes carefully. They were a reputable brand. The tongue of the shoe was attached on three sides to the shoe itself – which helps keep moisture out. AND Mac had just jumped into an ankle-deep puddle on our hike earlier that morning. . .They had a rubber sole that came up over the toe of the shoe – which is very nice since sometimes Mac drags his feet at the playground or while stumbling around on uneven surfaces.
I read the tags. . .They had some kinda’ a guarantee (of course Mac would out-grow them long before the guarantee ever expired). The tag also stated the shoes had little loops on the heels and tops of the tongues which would assist on slipping the shoes on quickly. That’s a definite plus with a 19-month old. . .
I snatched the last Toddler Size 6 I could find on the shelves and tossed them in the cart.
I walked through the rest of the store sneaking glances at the cute little hiking shoes. . .Mac would be so excited to have shoes just like Daddy’s!
I got to the car and as expected, Chris gave me some flack about the price of the shoes. But I was PREPARED! I touted all the features and reminded him they weren’t that much more expensive than the $17 or $20 we were going to shell out for some sneakers anyway.
My rationale must have been solid because Chris seemed satisfied.
We returned home after Mac’s nap and as soon as we got in the door, I couldn’t wait to show Mac his new shoes! Chris plopped down on a chair in the living room and with great flare I pulled the new shoes out of their box.
Undeterred by Mac’s squirming and protests, I slipped off his sneakers and began to slip his foot into the new hiking shoe.
“Hmmmm. . .that’s odd?” I mumble.
“What’s the hold up?” Chris demands, dodging Mac’s little fists of fury as he thrashes about on his lap.
“Well, it’s just that they seem tight or something.” I say as I pull the shoe off Mac’s foot and attempt to loosen the bungee laces and make the shoe more pliable. “Here, one more time. Maybe I’ve got it now?”
Except I didn’t have it. The shoes were an absolute bear to get on the kid’s feet. That whole tongue-attached-to-the-shoe-on-all-three-sides-I was-so-enthralled-with-back-in-the-store made it a real bitch to slip the shoes on easily.
“Maybe you should try?” I implored Chris. “Maybe you’ll have more leverage since he’s on your lap?” I am nothing if not stubborn and stupid.
Chris accommodated my request. . .but when it appeared he was unintentionally tourquing the kid’s ankle so violently it might snap, I had to admit defeat.
These shoes just weren’t going to work for us.
I swear I saw a happy smirk flash across Chris’ face for a split second. . .
“Oh well. We’ll have to return them.” I mutter as Chris released Mac to the floor. Mac took off like a shot to his favorite hiding spot behind the stroller. . .the one he typically reserves only for the most dreaded of diaper changes. . .Clearly, he wasn’t impressed with the shoes either. . .
After dinner, we decided we’d just go ahead, hurry up and return the shoes. This would kill sometime in the dark, cold evening hours when Mac typically runs wild turning the house upside down. . .
We geared up and I grabbed the shoebox, placed the original receipt in the box and headed towards the door.
“Well?” Chris says.
“Well what?” I ask tentatively. “I have two diapers, four wubbies. . .the small bag of Cheerios that will fit in your pocket, a sippy of water. . .” I start rattling off all the things I’m anticipating Chris might be wondering about before we can get in the damned car already!
“Well, you need to put those shoes in a bag.”
“I’m sorry. A bag?”
“Yes. You need to put those shoes in a bag if you’re going to return them.” Chris says matter-of-factly.
“Are you kidding? You’re kidding right?” I laugh as I try to move past him out the front door. I have my coat on and I’m starting to sweat.
“I’m not kidding. When you return stuff, you put it in a bag.” He says. Dead. Serious.
“Since when?” I snort at him.
“Since always.” He says handing me a plastic Giant grocery bag from the stash we keep near the door for dog walks.
I grab the bag and walk out the door. I’m willing to concede long enough to get us to the car so the sweating will stop already but I’m not done with him.
I plop down in the passenger seat of the Passat. “Why do you have to return stuff to the store in a bag?” I demand over the sounds of the Wilson’s Snipe on his bird call CD which is blaring through the car speakers.
“Because that way they know you didn’t just take it off the shelf.”
He said this to me as I was cramming a fistful of chocolate chips into my face. . .About 10 flew back out towards the windshield. . .
“Hold up. You think because I take these shoes to the customer service counter in a GIANT Grocery bag, that makes my return more credible? Even though I have the receipt and original packaging?”
“Yes.” Chris sniffs. “That’s how we always did it.”
“Wait.” I slur, mouth full of melting chocolate, “Who’s ‘we’?”
“My parents.” He says.
Oh no. . .I’m treading on thin ice here. You don’t mock family tradition too much lest you find yourself sleeping in the very cold, basement. . .
“Your parents, huh?”
Only the most carefully chosen words will avert total marital acrimony. . .Careful Deni. Careful.
I stall a little and try to buy some good will by attempting to locate all the chocolate chips I had previously snarffed out of my mouth in mockery moments earlier. . .
“Well. . .” I start. “I was never told about this whole ‘return in a bag’ policy. I mean, I guess it’s ok. But you’re asking me to return this particular item in a bag from a grocery store. What’s to say I didn’t just take the shoes off the shelf, and wedge them into this random bag I brought into the store with me specifically for this intended purpose? You know, to steal the shoes. . .And furthermore, what would happen if I just grabbed a bag from the checkout when entering the store, and then stuffed merchandise into it as I walked through the store and then tried to return it? I mean the bag doesn’t seem to make the return more credible as best as I can tell.” I have a receipt forchrissakes!!!
I wait nervously as Chris thinks about it. . .
I glance back at Mac. Even he seems to realize the importance of this moment, releasing the wubby from his mouth. . .Waiting motionless. . .
“You are a deceitful, calculating, and evil woman.” Chris laughs.
PS – Just in case there was any doubt, we don’t steal stuff. We would NEVER steal anything. And if we did, rest assured, I wouldn’t try returning that shit. EVER. That’s just plain crazy!