Monday, November 20, 2006

Time for a Career Change?

I begin my life of crime. Took the tots to the mall today. One day I will have a hidden camera trail me, just so you can experience what it's like to walk behind my stroller. People stop dead in their tracks. People do double takes that must hurt. Old men on benches punch each other and laugh as we pass. Little kids shriek. Grandma types come over to coo. Mothers either laugh or groan or simply grow pale. Very few people ignore us.

"Mommy! Mommy, lookit all the babies!!!" "Are they all yours?" "I'll bet they keep you busy!" "Oh, my God." "Holy f*&ing sh*t. Er, sorry, babies." "What a lovely little family!"
I only go to the mall when I'm feeling particularly sociable, because there's no evading it. Today, Emma needed boots. Winter is around the corner, and the girl has no boots. It does not pay to wait. There will be nothing but dregs in another week, and Lord only knows that if I wait until December, the stores will be filled with nothing but sandals and cruise wear. Just TRY buying a child's winter coat in this city in December. In a mind-boggling display of denial and wish fulfillment, the depleted racks of winter outerwear will be gone, to be replaced by "we-wish-it-were-summer" wear. While I can't argue the sentiment, it is no help at all to the last-minute mother desperately seeking to clothe her offspring. In attire that will not attract the notice of the CAS. So. Off to the mall for boots. A quick stop at the pharmacy for a few small things before we hit the shoe stores. I pass my items to the cashier. "Oh, LOOK at all of them!" The cashier peers over the counter. Timmy flaps his arms at her, Emily beams, Nigel and Anna stare solemnly. "Hi babies! Hello, hello!" She slips my purchases into a bag. "Aren't they sweet! They're not all yours, are they?" "Oh, gracious no." I point to Emma, loitering in the door a few feet away. "That big one is my baby." Emma is so used to this exchange she doesn't even wince. She just smiles and wiggles her fingers at the cashier. I must have that conversation fifty times a month. It's a hazard of the job, but how can I complain? Babies do that to people. As we leave the store, the security sensors bleep at us. We pause and look back at the cashier, who grins at the flapping Timmy once more and waves us through. Off we go to the first shoe store where, Emma being her mother's daughter, we buy the second pair she tries on. It's not that we don't enjoy shopping, but when you know what you want and you see what you like - there! Done! Besides, with four tots under two, it's the ONLY way to shop. We don't indulge in recreational shopping during my business hours... And then home. We unpack the babies from the stroller, the babies from their snowsuits, and the purchases from the bags. Bah. There is no receipt in the bag from the pharmacy. Those were business expenses. I need that receipt. I've scoured my pockets and my purse and am considering going outside to check the basket at the back of the stroller, when I am hit by a thought. "Emma. Do you remember me paying for these things?" She stares at me. "You know what? I don't think you did." Nope. The nice cashier lady took my purchases, played with the babies, put my stuff in a bag, and chatted with me before waving me (the woman working on mindless autopilot with her four adorable distractions) through the frantically beeping security gate. I look at my loot: a tub of diaper cream, a pack of vinyl-covered baby spoons and a couple of bibs. Total value, approximately $12.95. All mine, for the price of an invigorating walk to the mall and a few friendly exchanges. A life of crime beckons. ~~~~~~~~~~~~ © 2006, Mary P


Blogger Kelli in the Mirror said...

Oh, that's funny! So are you going to go back and give them the $12.95? I thought you were going to say there were more things in the stroller that one of the babies stole. This is much better.

I get those same comments when we go out, and people always want to know if they're "twins". There are five of them. One is Mexican. Twins? And yes, they're all mine... because I'm so very busy at my night job....

11/20/2006 03:53:00 p.m.  
Blogger Peter said...

You should schedule a trip to the bank.

11/20/2006 03:59:00 p.m.  
Blogger lara said...

sounds like you're creating an excellent support system of accomplices there, mary. in a few more years, they can start playing a more active role - little fingers, and all. ;)

11/20/2006 06:54:00 p.m.  
Blogger jen said...

I haven't been here in awhile, and I see how much i've missed...even in this one hilariously perfect post.

perhaps an undercover cop is in your future? or, solely b/c you can juggle so many at once, running the UN, maybe?

11/20/2006 11:41:00 p.m.  
Blogger Tater and Tot said...

Oh, very clever. Next time you are out, I need you to "pick me up" diapers. Lots and lots of diapers. Thank you.

11/20/2006 11:53:00 p.m.  
Blogger Lady M said...

A life of very sloooowly committed crime! ;)

11/21/2006 02:10:00 a.m.  
Blogger Zero Latitude said...

I have this image in my head of Dickens's Fagin pushing a massive creaking stroller through the streets of London, packed with little Oliver Twist, Artful Dodger and the rest, their hands taught to grab everywhere and everything... especially whatever is in the pockets of those cooing passers-by...

Fagin was a role model, was he? 8-)

11/21/2006 04:13:00 a.m.  
Blogger Mamacita Tina said...

I love that story! Totally could see this used in a TV show episode.

Envisioning you out in public with four toddlers/babies humbles me.

11/21/2006 05:51:00 a.m.  
Blogger Avalon said...

Imagine the clerk trying to describe the thief to the police. " Um, yes officer, I did say FOUR a GIANT stroller......and a teenager......and she kept me talking while they made off with the goods". Classic.

11/21/2006 08:32:00 a.m.  
Blogger Mary P. said...

Kelli: I am one of the honest types. A cashier gives me too much change, I'll give it back. I walk out of the store with something forgotten in my hand, I'll bring it back. Yeah, I'll pay for the stuff. I think I'll go without the kids, though...

That "are they all yours" question comes up so very often that Emma and I have a game of figuring out just how that might be. "Yes, they are! Emma is 13, Nigel is two, and the triplets are just over a year." We've never done it, but it's a fun game.

Peter: HAHAHAHAHA! I like it. I do. After all, EVERYONE agrees I don't get paid nearly enough...

Kari: Yup, that's me, a modern-day Fagin. Heh.

Jen: Ah! A noble woman you are. See how neatly you turn my temptation to join the dark side into an opportunity to lead the light!

T&T: Diapers? Damn. I forgot the diapers! Which is totally why I went to the store in the first place. Damn!

LadyM: You've pointed out the fatal flaw in the 'plan'. At this rate, I'll be able to afford a meal every other day. If I want to be successful at this new venture, we have to pick up the pace a bit...

ZeroLatitude: HA! I had this very image in my mind when I answered Kari's comment, above. Moreover, I treat the children very well.

Mamacita Tina: It would make a fun little scene on a sitcom, wouldn't it?

You know, though two kids is pretty near double the work of one, after that, it's more logistics than anything. Which is not to say I'd want to be in charge of ten, but four? Not as bad as you think! They did very well, even little Anna, whose nap schedule is being tweaked a bit.

11/21/2006 08:32:00 a.m.  
Blogger Mary P. said...

Avalon: LMAO It's the sort of crime I'm almost certain to get away with. Who'd want the embarrassment of fessing up to being conned by the likes of us?

11/21/2006 08:35:00 a.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

have done similar things, left stuff in the hood bit of my pushchair and not realised till I got home! and little ella once walked beside me carrying armfulls of tube socks, didnt notice till the security guard laughed at me at the door! and certain very small fingers have been known to grab sweeties of racks near the checkout, I blame the shops for putting sweets at their level!
Jenny in the uk x

11/21/2006 09:48:00 a.m.  
Blogger Jenorama said...

I always suspected as much.

11/21/2006 03:23:00 p.m.  
Blogger stefanierj said...

I think this would make a nice addendum to the reality TV show I'm going to do about you that is like SuperNanny 911, only starring a sane, winsome person like yourself. I mean, people always wonder what the TV nannies are like on their own with a bunch of kids, and now we know. The Great Diaper Cream Caper!

11/22/2006 11:14:00 a.m.  
Anonymous Si said...

tut tut tut MaryP!!!

In the UK (not sure about canadian law) the act of theft is only made if, when you discover the items you then decide to keep them without paying for them.

I think I'll go and check the Canadian Most wanted list, for you :-)

Just checked ( and the good news is your not on it. Yet!

11/22/2006 08:00:00 p.m.  

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