Last Saturday, I had a mission: buy back-to-school clothes.
Nothing was going to get in the way of accomplishing that goal.
I don’t enjoy shopping with my children. It isn’t something I enter into lightly. I suppose I’m experienced enough (read: I’ve endured screaming/crying/fit-throwing/drag-my-children-out-of-the-store-ing more than once) to know that a successful shopping trip with four children takes planning and a rare alignment of the stars.
The day started out well–the sun was shining and we were only an hour behind schedule. Stan didn’t have to work, so there would be one parent to man the stroller and one parent to herd the other children. I had the route planned in my head to avoid the carousel, the kiddie rides, and the indoor playspace, while still getting to the stores we needed. I had coupons.
Yes. I was ready.
In the parking lot (not even in the mall yet), my nose started bleeding. Not a good sign.
Luckily, we had some baby wipes under the stroller for just such an emergency. I made a beeline for the restroom as soon as we got inside, and tried to tell Stan, “Go ahead and–“
“We’ll wait,” Stan said. He’s no dummy.
I ducked into the first stall, which, of course, had to be completely clogged. I found this out only after shoving several wadded clumps of bloody toilet paper inside. Nice. I ducked into the next stall as soon as the coast was clear.
I don’t have a lot of experience with bloody noses. I’ve only had three or four my entire life, and they’ve all occurred over the past couple of years. Mostly, they’ve stopped after a couple of minutes.
With Saturday’s bloody nose, I had no such luck.
I would press the tissue to my nose, wait for a couple of minutes, then slowly remove it.
Drip. Drip. Dripdripdripdrip. “Rats!”
Several more minutes. Same result.
Eden came in after awhile. “How’s it going, Mom?”
A full ten minutes later, I exited the stall and looked in the mirror. Lovely.
Still, Stan was hanging out in the hallway with four kids. They were ecstatic to be at the mall. And I am not a wuss.
I carefully washed each hand (separately, of course–the other was needed to ebb the flow) to get the disgusting bloodstains off, then I even more carefully scrubbed the tip of my nose with an index finger for the same reason. I re-entered the stall one final time, stowing some tissue in my pockets for later (just in case) and neatly folding a very thick square to replace the haphazard wad I was currently using. A quick switch, a final flush, and I was on my way.
Stan raised his eyebrows. I did, after all, still have a copious amount of toilet tissue swathed over my face with one hand. “Still going?”
I nodded. “Let’s shop!”
“Do you want to go?” Stan asked me.
I looked at him over my toilet paper veil. I glanced at the kids, dancing around the stroller. “We have to.” I said.
Stan looked at the kids and sighed. “I guess you’re right.”
There’s a man for you. Not the least embarrassed by his wife’s bloody nose in a crowded shopping mall–more concerned, in fact, that he disappoint the kids.
We walked into the bustling mall. “Are you putting pressure on it?” he asked me, indicating the bridge of his nose.
What? Pressure? Oh, right. “Not really.” I said. But I started to right away.
And next ensued one of the craziest instances of back-to-school shopping ever.
We went to one store, where they have good quality clothes and I had a pretty good coupon. Unfortunately, one-handed shopping does not come naturally for me, and I was also having trouble being heard, most likely due to the thing pretty much covering my mouth and nose.
I was giving muffled instructions, the kids were pulling things off shelves, and Colby decided he was ready to get out of the stroller. Really ready. Squirming and screaming ready.
After a hectic twenty or thirty minutes, there was a sizable pile of clothing on the front seat of the stroller, Colby was still crying, and we were finished.
No, really. We got everything we needed in just one store.
Halfway through, I was feeling a little, you know, moist, so I turned to Stan. “Am I still okay?”
“Uh-uh. You’re leaking through.”
While I was trying to figure out how to swap with the back up in my pocket without grossing everyone out and getting blood all over the clothes (I’m sure the clerks were giving me the you-get-blood-on-it-you-buy-it glare the entire time, but I didn’t make eye contact so I can’t be positive about that) Stan reached over and said, “Here. Just do this.” He folded the bottom half of my compress up, peered under and around to make sure I was covered, and said, “Good as new.”
So anyway, I took Rainbow and found another rest room while Stan paid the bill. Lo and behold–the gusher had stopped! I was so relieved. I could again walk the mall like a normal citizen, not ducking my toilet paper covered face in shame and embarrassment.
We finished our mall errands quickly, and although I spent more money than I would have if I’d had the time to look around a little more earnestly, I think–overall–it can be considered a successful shopping trip.
Of course, we got home and I found quite a few unapproved items that Rainbow liked and stuck on the stroller, which Stan didn’t realize while he was checking out. But they can be returned. Nice try, anyway, Rainbow.
School starts on Wednesday, and clothes-wise, we’re ready.
Now we just have to get school supplies . . .