My Last Trip to Goodwill—Maybe Ever

My last trip to Goodwill was two weeks ago, and I’m giving myself another week or two before I will show my face in there again. I know, it’s not like the people who work there don’t see their share of “interesting individuals,” but still . . . I’ve still got a sliver of pride left in this body, and I’m not ready to part with it quite yet.

Here’s what went down.

It was my day off, and after attending my women’s Bible study, I decided to run to Goodwill with Boy #3 in tow to see if I could find any long pants for my boys since the two youngest refuse to wear jeans, anything that’s a little bit baggy, or material that is “too fuzzy.” So I directed Boy #3 to the kids’ books while I searched for pants that weren’t ripped, didn’t have stains, weren’t fuzzy, weren’t scratchy, weren’t made of denim, and were the correct size. Amazingly, I found more than one pair! I turned back to the books and found Boy #3 sitting on the floor surrounded by various titles. Tossing the Muppet Babies (What is it with Muppet Babies books and Goodwill? I’m not joking. Dig through the books at your local thrift store and tell me you didn’t find about 15 books featuring Baby Kermit, Miss Piggy, and Gonzo.) and circa-1979 titles back into the bins, I helped Boy #3 choose two books of impressive literary value to buy and take home (which have since already found their way back to Goodwill).

We then headed toward the front to check out. As I waited for the sales clerk to ring up my treasures, I was temporarily mesmerized by a mom and her son, who was probably 4. I knew I shouldn’t stare, but it was like when you pass by a car accident, or a goth couple at Wal-Mart. You know you really shouldn’t look, but you cannot make yourself look away.

I couldn’t tell if the mom was actually in a lot of a pain or if she was just coming down off a three-day bender, but she literally shuffled through the store, periodically grabbing her lower back and stopping to rest. Her son, however, was not suffering from the same lack of energy. In fact, he proceeded to run through the store, hiding under racks and jumping on furniture. Then when she informed him it was time to go, he yelled “NO!” and ran away from her. Smart kid because there was NO WAY his mom was going to catch him. In her case, slow and steady would not be winning the race. Obviously frustrated, the mom’s solution to this problem was to try to chase him (WHY? WHY? You are not going to catch him considering you can’t even manage to pick your feet completely off the floor!) while screaming at and threatening him.

Right out of Parenting 101 is what that technique was, folks.

Finally she managed to “shuffle-chase” him toward the door, and he sprinted out, probably into incoming traffic. I was really worried about how she’d catch him once he took off down Ankeny Boulevard, but I decided there really wasn’t anything I could do about it. I was dying to ask her, though, what in the world possessed her to bring her son to Goodwill in the first place, especially considering the state she was in? They didn’t buy anything, so she must not have been desperate for clothes or 1960s Avon cologne bottles.

My gaze was finally broken by the slamming of the door behind the angry woman. Turning my attention back to my own child, I noticed that he had de-pants the mannequin that was in front of the check-out counter. (Or, should I say “de-skirted” as she was wearing a very lovely elastic-waist skirt.)

Realizing that I now had the “naughty child” in the Goodwill store, I opened my mouth to tell Boy #3 to pull up that nice lady’s skirt right this minute when he hit me with the next whammy.

Here’s what came out of his mouth:

“Look, Mom, I can see her penis!”

What do you even do with that? There was so much wrong with that moment. “Good moms” would probably consider that a “teachable moment” and plunk themselves down in the gold flowered sofa at the front of the store to deliver a lesson on anatomy to their child right then and there.

But since I’m not “that mom,” I just pulled up the mannequin’s skirt, grabbed my Goodwill bag in one hand and Boy #3 in the other, put my head down as to not make eye contact with anyone who may have overheard the outburst, and headed for the exit.


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