I hate shopping. Hate it. Hence my shoe situation. The pair of sandals I bought last year have completely worn out. The heels are gone. I have some 10+ year old sandals that I don’t particularly like. And I have pink sequined slippers. Practical! And they go with everything… And… flip flops. Anyway, I wanted to get a pair of sandals that were at once elegant and low-heeled but not completely flat and practical and comfortable and leather and under $50. Yeah. So Owen and I hit the mall last week. I told him we were going to the shoe store (without realizing how many shoe stores there were in the “big big mall”). I think I looked at every pair of sandals in the whole mall.
Owen is pretty much game for anything, so in the first 3-4 shoe stores he was having fun. He tried the ladies’ shoes on on top of his sandals, pronouncing them “nice!” and generally (sort of) enjoying himself. But of course, his Mama couldn’t find anything that fit her multiple criteria, so we had to go to 7-8-9-10 shoe stores.
At around 11:00 (1.5 hours into the shopping expedition), Owen started to complain “No mo’ shoe store! No mo’ shoe store!” – at 11:30 we went and had a snack: a berry oatmeal muffin and a huge glass of milk. The snack was a success. Ever since, Owen has been asking to go back to the “big-a-big-a-big-a mall” for num-nums.
But when, after the snack, I tried to go back into another shoe store, he almost lost it.
All this to say that for Owen’s birthday, Duncan bought him two new books, Llama Llama Mad at Mama and Llama Llama Red Pajama, both by Anna Dewdney . They are both absolutely perfect for Owen’s age and they somehow capture the frustrations and fears of a toddler as well as the (potential? inevitable?) abstraction of the parent. It contains useful lines you can use in everyday situations, like when your toddler starts to pout and whine to get your attention (“Little Llama, what a tizzy! Sometimes Mama’s very busy”).
Initially, all Duncan saw of the Llama Llama Mad at Mama book was the title and the cover. He showed it to me and we both agreed that we had to get it because it so perfectly captured Owen’s expression when we have to go to the grocery store (or shoe store) and he is hungry… Not a happy scene:
Dewdney manages to capture the frustration of the little Llama, who is having a great time playing “blocks and puzzles in the sun” when his Mama Llama comes along and whisks him off to the Shop-O-Rama. Poor Llama even falls asleep in the car only to hear (too soon) “Wake up! Wake up! Here we are!” And when they get to the store:
At some point, after trying on new socks and shoes and being asked whether he wants Cheezee Puffs or Oatie Crunch, little Llama loses it. He has a full-blown temper tantrum in the middle of the Shop-O-Rama. What I like about the book is that Mama Llama keeps her cool. She realises that her son is bored out of his mind, so she includes him in the activity rather than remaining aloof in her adult mind. These books are good for reminding parents what it must be like to be a toddler, without much control over activities or even the ability to express frustration beyond whining and all-out protest.
Duncan and I were a little worried (before having read the book) that it would promote some kind of rampant consumerism, but I can relate to this Mama, who says “I think shopping’s boring too. But at least I’m here with you.”
Acknowledging Owen’s limits, I finally went back to the first store and bought a pair of shoes and a pair of sandals. The shoes are comfortable and will be great for fall. The sandals I have since returned. Oh oh. Looks like Mama will have to go back to the Shop-o-Rama. Actually, I think I’ll make do with $4 flip flops and shoes I don’t particularly like.