How To Shop At Target (if it’s just you and the kids or the wife is doing the shopping and you’re just touring with the kids and not really buying)
With apologies to Walmart, Kmart, and other SuperMarts we don’t shop at.
So you’ve got your own cart and one kid is improperly seated in the cart (but not in the cart seat area) and the other one is walking. If you’re on the left entrance, good. If you’re on the right entrance (parking lot right, not Target sign-right) then you’ll want to get to the left side unless your Target has its toy aisle on the left. This is crucial.
ACT 1 – THE NOTHING AISLES: You begin with the wife over by the pharmacy. There is a quick tet-a-tet about taking both kids but in reality whether you have one kid or two, you enjoy it just the same, and the walking/touring plan is the same. You part ways after mentioning that you need bananas and apples but not the Target evergreen bananas and small apples, but you’ll end up getting both because who wants to go to the supermarket after shopping at Target? No one. Remind the wife about vitamins, and go.
Up to the cereal, snack, and should-I-start-being-the-guy-who-buys-breakfast-treats-in-bulk-to-take-to-work aisle, where one kid wants gummy treats (followed by one or two times saying “maybe next time, buddy” or “we’ll come back later” which are always great placating terms, and they might be true because you’re a softy) and the other wants to get out of the cart. She has to stay in the cart, for now. Consider buying a huge tub of almonds, which you’ve done in trips past because the kids were hungry and you were hungry. You might want to pick up a snack in this aisle. Ok, you pick up a snack in this aisle. You will eat said snack and pay for it later, the checkout clerk will approve. Hopefully the wife remembers to get Cheerios when she passes by this aisle. You go to text her and then put your phone away. She’ll remember.
Do a drive-by of the sad set of aisles from seasons past (whether it’s the just-ended School or Halloween Aisle or the Christmas-past aisle) where you will quickly consider buying something but will never actually do so, although if you had money still left over from those seasons you might purchase something for next year, but you’re not that dad yet.
ACT 2 – THE LONG SAUNTER: You saunter past the bedding, shoe, kitty litter, car, home decor, and “other” aisles slowly, feeling good you don’t need to get anything today or that the wife, enjoying her time to herself, will pick up any items you or the house need. You might want to get a pack of toilet paper or paper towels for the child in the cart because she likes to sit on it and be queen of the cart. Once you put the boy in the cart and propped him up on a pack of tp and your coat and he slept like a champ the whole time. Feel free to saunter through the car and toy aisle, and talk out loud about what manly things you or the car might need.
Saunter through the baby aisle and think about the days when this was the only place you remember going to because it required all of your attention. You’re a pro now, and know everything about sizes, wipes, clothes, seats, and all things onesies and bibs. You are the dad. You’re a champ. But chances are you’ll get something wrong in the future.
As you go by the kitty litter aisle, go ahead and have that buy one bag for cheap or buy the 35 lbs. for $11? debate you always have in your head. Is $11 that much for all that kitty litter? Dream about not having to change the kitty litter box. Dream about not having to think about $11 as a “lot of money” one day.
ACT 3 – NO, THIS IS FOR DADDY: The kids know the TOY AISLE is around the corner, and the wife still needs more time (do not bother calling her because she never has her cell phone on, conveniently. You learn this the hard way every time you call here while at Target. She will never change. Accept this.) So you “need” to look and pants and shirts for work and dream about the day you’ll buy new clothes, but not today. Have the kids help you find the right size, but they’ll just sniff and scope around for clothes with logos of Angry Birds or Star Wars or the ALMIGHTY TOY AISLE and you’ll be on your own, pretending to shop for clothes for you, and then you’ll give up. Go to the Nerdy Shirt shelf and consider buying a $5 Nerdy Dad Shirt with a sci-fi logo on it. Then consider you’ll be wearing the same shirt most sixth graders are wearing to school on Monday because their moms had the same idea.
Go back up the clothes aisle (past the kids clothes, which the wife has in control) and quickly go beyond the toy aisles and down the tote aisle, and head for the DVD, TV, Book, and electronics aisles. Be quick because the children sense when the toys are near.
ACT 4 – ALMOST AT MORDOR: Yes, you need totes, but you’re not getting any today. Yes, the boy needs a bike but you’re not getting it today. Think of the days when the Toy Aisle will pale in comparison to the sports and skateboard aisles. Aim for the Book and DVD section. Remember when you used to buy DVDs? See that Superman #1-4 set for five bucks? Ha! You have the tin box collection INCLUDING Superman Returns AND a booklet AND a comic book (which the kids have colored all over) you got years ago for $20. Make a wish that there are books you would read, and then lament that they only carry nonfiction books by Chelsea Handler and Bill O’Reilly or fiction books for the ladies and young ladies. Some of the books are literary, but most of them you’d never pick up or you’re put off by the NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE STARRING label on the cover, and you remember the book before it had a movie poster cover. And the magazines are no diverse library either. They’re either collectors’ something or other specials or magazines about other magazines or trends, like the 50 Shades of Grey magazine which is about the culture of bondage I’m assuming, in PG format for the Target crowd, and in any other time period would be sold in an adult bookstore, but is strangely and proudly displayed here because men don’t read, and women do. And men would read this magazine if it wasn’t so boring and had more pictures.
Pick up what looks like a comic book and realize it is a fake Green Lantern Annual, which only has older GL stories and nothing new. Look for weekly magazines that aren’t entertainment-related, there are none. Consider buying DVDs and then realize that with Netflix and On Demand and DVR and iTunes and Hulu and Redbox and Amazon Prime you’ll almost never buy a DVD again.
Do a quick loop around the TV and electronics aisles and see if the boy is interested in video games yet. No, he isn’t. Hope for a future when you can play him one-on-one in something, and dread a future where you’ll be buying $60 video games and he’ll be beating you at all of them. As you walk there browse the children’s book titles for new ones. You only have about ten thousand children’s books at home, so keep walking. It seems the kids have new books all the time and you never know where they come from, so rest easy. Try to remember if childrens has an apostrophe or not. The children have books, so it’s a plural possessive thing. Use the apostrophe.
ACT 5 – THE TOY AISLE IS ALL THERE IS: Hop from the DVD/TV area to the pen aisle and look for more of your favorite pens which they never have(.7 Pilot or nothing). The kids know the Toy Aisle is two aisles away or so, so stall because once you’re there there is no going anywhere else until the wife meets you and you can check out. The kids know the drill, and you’re trained as well. Ask the kids for help finding your favorite pens, and get ready to put back everything then hand you. This is fun.
Ask the kids if they want to, you know, maybe, like, look at toys? Get ready for affirmation!
And here we go…this is how you approach the Toy Aisles at Target, which is the only reason you’re there anyway:
Step One: The Princess needs to look at her aisles first because she’ll be entertained in the boy’s aisles soon enough, and this may not last when she’s older, and you have to keep them together, and so you do it. She’s three, so she’s okay for browsing the dollies and then moving on. She grabs something to carry with her, and that’s okay because she’s okay letting go of it later on, except that one time.
The boy, however, needs prompting. But the girl needs to see the aisles in their ascendency: from the 0-2 range unisex toy aisle (usually a greenish aisle) to the younger female aisle (usually the strictly-girl aisles are glaringly pink) to the oh-no-she’s-going-to-want-these-Barbies-and-a-One-Direction-Boy-Doll-when-she’s-older aisles (for the 8-11 year old set).
And then it’s all boy-aisles. Here we go. make sure you take equal time, dad. We all know you also really want to see those Legos and Star Wars toys and the new Imaginext figurines. No shame in my nerd game.
Step Two: It’s very crucial that you prepped the kids beforehand that you were not buying any toys today. Or, that you were only maybe getting $6 toys, or something like that. Or maybe they saved up. There always needs to be some sort of incentive or explanation. Don’t forget this.
Here you are: The first of three toy aisles just for boys. On the side of the aisles there are board games you look at including chess boards and Katan (who plays this Star Trek game, enough people to still sell it at Target, really?) The five year old is going to want to skip the large action figure aisle, which is fine, but he will spend time in the Lego aisle, and the girl will too. You take him past the Star Wars action figures and he’s just not interested, but the six and seven year old version of you takes interest, and you remark something nerdy about a “new release” of some uninteresting Imperial Guard or Clones Wars exclusive figure. You also lament that the package of three Sith Lords or Jedi Masters cost $40. $40? Really? But it does seems worth it. Oh, Obi-Won.
You’ve arrived. The girl is spinning the Ninjago display characters and the boy is asking how much the TIE fighter is that you didn’t get him for Christmas. Ah, $65 Legos. I’m glad that he understands that Jabba’s Palace or the Millenium Falcon costs way too much (but you still have been eyeing prices online for next year), and for now, your Tolkien-like journey through Target has ended. The children grab toys and play with the scanner. The boy asks if $15.99 is too much. The girl follows suit. You say no about a hundred times for a hundred little items that the boy knows are cheap enough to get, so maybe next time. Those Legos mini-figurines do seem worth it.
The wife saunters up with a shopping cart of essentials, spying on you in your nerdy dad time of toy-aisle splendor, and you head toward the check-out aisle. All is well and aside for the check-out line asking to buy gum or mini-mini-Legos, you’re done saying no for the day. Maybe you said yes. Either way, the kids are almost always happy at this point, and aside from always thinking outside the box, you all were happy spending the last hour in a huge box-mart that had almost everything.
Denouement: A lovely ride home, singing pop songs with the wife and kids. Ah, life.
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All original material is copyrighted Nerdy Dad Shirt/Jeremy McKeen 2013-2014