I have a love affair with Aldi. I used to hate it, I admit. The first time I’d ever walked in I was sort of creeped out by how it was laid out, the murder mystery lighting etc. It was just not my favorite place to be. Aldi? I judged you. I admit. When we added babies 4 and 5, it was time to cut back on the groceries. I know that sounds counterproductive but what I am really saying is I needed to buy more for less. And with that came my affair with Aldi.
The problem with it is, toys. They sell a ton of toys. Bright beautiful batman and Frozen and Playdoh branded toys. And my littlest kids are AMAZED by it.
Yesterday though, we did good. We got up early, drove a chicken tray to the high school and then to a far away mall for a not so great haircut. We got there too early. My usual offense and so we walked around awhile in the empty mall. This is hard for Dexter who doesn’t like it when we change the plans. I say with every outing, “we are doing this then this and then this. We will (or won’t) be getting XYZ and when we get home, we will be doing _____ (insert activity to end the day)”. It works for him most of the time but what is hard to teach him is the “oops” moments, like getting to the mall to early or when he heard he was getting a hair cut and not Dixon. However, with a little explaining, he did great. We got Dixon’s hair cut (bad bad haircut), we played in the play area provided by the mall and visited the toy store. We got a pretzel and I was able to buy Devlynn a swimsuit top without much complaining. We even managed to get into the car without event so I was worried about the big N and O when we finally got to the grocery store, my beloved Aldi and I had to reject the toy I knew he’d want. We arrived at Aldi, quarter in hand and walked to the carts. He popped in the quarter, smiling all the way. He picked cereal and fruit and maintained his happy but then, toys! Oh my Gawd, not the toys but he didn’t even notice. He instead said, “today was the best day ever!” And with that I was grateful for planning ahead, making sure he knew we’d not be getting a toy and for reminding him that our time together was the “treasure” and not the toy. We celebrated by sharing a bag of baked peas and counting how many popsicles we have left (we’re working on our numbers). We have good and bad days. More good then we used to. They used to all be bad. I don’t take these good ones for granted anymore.
I imagine it’s hard in his little head. Two years ago he couldn’t say anything he was feeling and I couldn’t help him and that made for craziness and anger. And I get it. I feel like two-year old him a lot. Trying to weigh what is worth saying to people. Trying to live by the rules of is it true, helpful, inspiring, necessary or kind. It makes it hard when people don’t live by the same rules. I imagine that’s sort of how he felt… hands tied without being able to scream at someone who hurt your feelings. When I take the time to think about what I want to say, it’s often not something that’s worth it. Do you hurt someone else’s feelings to let go of yours? I don’t know sometimes.
Words are tough. As are feelings. For big and little. But like my little Dexter, I’m learning, even if it took 20+ years, that sometimes, you just gotta smile, enjoy what you have and celebrate “best days ever”.