Shopping with Mom

Back when I was just a little kid, before the 60’s came along, I used to go shopping with my Mom. I’m sure I was as much help to her as my kids have been to me.Like the time when I couldn’t find whatever it was I was looking for and about the 13th time down the same aisle my then 7 year old son looked at me with exasperation in his face and said, “Just ask someone!” Now he won’t go to the store with me, but then again he’s 17.Anyway, back when I helped Mom I liked to push the cart. It gave me a feeling of power and control, pushing that big cart full of wonderful things sugary cereal, cookies and brownie mixes down the narrow aisles right behind Mom. I would be pretending I was a truck driver, or race car driver and then‚ “Ow!” Mom would cry.”If you can’t quit running into me, let me push it. Please!”If Mom said ‘please’ I knew I was close to the edge. She got real polite just before she blew. And so I had two choices, pay attention and behave or sullenly sit underneath the cart and let her push me. It was more work to start and stop the cart which with all the food in it weighed more than me than to sit underneath it and let Mom give me a ride.But sometimes, even if I was really upset with her, I felt bad when she grunted and groaned manipulating the heavy cart around the store. And besides if she was to buy any Pepsi the bottles would go right where I was sitting. So I’d try and push and pull and steer the cart which was getting heavier and heavier until Mom would decide it was too heavy for me and take over.If we had extra money for spending Mom would let us look in the dime store. I found all sorts of fascinating things to buy but it was always hard to make the decision because I could usually only afford one thing. So it was a dilemma. Do I buy the wallet to put my dollar in? Or do I keep the dollar and have no wallet to put it in?We knew if we were short on tax Mom would help. Back then three cents on a dollar was all the state of Kansas took on a retail sale. We knew if we needed more than that not to ask. Besides, Mom would sometimes surprise us with an ice cream cone on the way home.Mom would sometimes go to other stores too; stores that could be boring to a little boy. Racks of dresses held no interest and the temptation to hide under things or to see what happened when I slapped a mannequin on the rear was very real.Often Mom would take the keys out of the ignition and then say, “Boys, why don’t you just wait in the car?”  It wasn’t a question. It had something to do with cows and china and the closet, although I never saw a store with china in it. So we’d wait in the car.Sometimes, if we had been to the dime store we’d have something we wanted to play with anyway. And usually, if it had moving parts or small pieces that had to be assembled, I wanted to look at them. Even though Mom would always say, “Don’t open that in the car. You’ll lose something.”How she knew that, I’ll never know.When I was going to be six, she took me and my little brother, Tim, to a store with cowboy clothing. For our birthdays we were to get a fancy cowboy shirt and genuine cowboy hat and a set of six guns complete with holsters! Well, I was standing in front of what seemed like 10,000 different shirts and Mom would hold them up, one after another and patiently ask. “How about this one, do you like this one?”I don’t know, I just felt ornery that day, so if Tim liked it, I did, and if he didn’t, I didn’t either. This made Tim mad and Mom frustrated. Finally she said with her polite voice, “Just pick one. Please!” So I picked red, even though I wanted blue. Tim got blue.Mom would also take us out to buy Christmas presents for school Christmas parties or birthday presents whenever we got invited to a birthday party. It was hard for me to know what to buy for other kids. Mom would wait patiently making a suggestion or two and watch me look at all the choices. Once, when I was having trouble deciding and the things that looked really good were out of the price limit I asked Mom what I should do.”Well,” she said, sounding so wise. “If you don’t know what they’d like, get them something you’d like.” It sounded good to me besides I really had to go to the bathroom and could barely concentrate. So I picked up the box of Lifesavers shaped like a book. I thought I would like that if somebody gave it to me for a present. But, nobody ever did.Mom sewed most of our clothes when we were growing up. And most of my shoes seemed to come from my older brother Dan, but once in awhile Mom would take just me out to buy something, like socks, or underwear. And she would show me what was in my size. She would smile, and say, “You like blue, how about these? Oh, how about this?”Mom was fun to shop with that way. She was cheerful and pleasant and enjoyed watching me get excited over having a week’s worth of clean socks in one hand.She usually kept up a steady stream of happy comments while we shopped. Probably she did this because I tended to be quiet most of the time. I grew up that way, going to stores with Mom talking as we walked down the aisles looking at things.When I started going to the stores on my own, and I would be staring at the shelves in front of me I could still hear Mom’s voice. “You like blue, how about this? Or did you see that? Oh, that look’s nice.”I rarely go shopping now days. I don’t like trying things on to make sure they fit, nor do I have the patience for matching colors or patterns. (Hence, my look) But when I do, I still hear Mom’s cheerful voice in my head. And its just like I’m shopping with Mom again.

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