My blog I've ignored for 2 years while attending the Brandcenter
For a couple of years now my wife and I have been going on dates to Target with the boys. Yes, that’s right. Target. On a date. With our boys. Some would call this sad. I would call this survival. We’ve found that Target is one of those places where you can take your kids on a Saturday night at 7pm just so everyone can get out of the house for 45 minutes. Besides you need to get dishwasher detergent anyways so you might as well make a night of it.
At first we both were embarrassed with how often we ended up at Tar-Jay. A couple of years ago we’d be meeting friends for drinks or dinner at this time. Our night would just be getting started. Now we’re both super excited at the matching Dora Explorer plates we found in the $1 section. Super excited.
It’s really not that bad of a place to wander when you just want to kill an hour before you begin the grueling “nighttime routine” of getting the boys: bathed, teeth brushed, pajamas on, books read, stuffed animals brought to life with multiple accents and funny voices and the soul sucking battle to get our 4 year to go to sleep
Not convinced? Well here are 5 Random Thoughts On why going to Target on Saturday nights with your family isn’t the sad spectacle you think it is.
There are two types of families that go to Target on Saturday nights. Those that buy the popcorn and those that do not. Those who buy their kids popcorn can be seen quietly strolling the home furnishing section laughing and enjoying each others company. Then there are those who didn’t spring for the popcorn. Their kids are melting down as the couple is engaging in a fierce quiet fight over why they didn’t buy the popcorn. It’s one of those public fights where you are both whispering and shouting at the same time.
That’s why the Target popcorn is essential to a successful Saturday night trip. Without it you’re unarmed to defend yourself against the onslaught that will be your children’s dwindling patience. I don’t know how long Target has been serving popcorn. I only noticed it when our boys were old enough to point it out to me. One particular Target visit we broke down and bought our oldest some popcorn. He was having a bit of a meltdown and wasn’t keen on shopping. The popcorn was a hit. It bought us exactly enough time to shop in peace. It now has become a staple in our Saturday night Target trips.
On the downside the popcorn is gross. It usually has been sitting in that bin all day with the heat lights keeping it warm and stale. It also has a yellow coloring that you only see in cheap movie theater/county fair popcorn. It wouldn’t surprise me if someone has been feeding us salted origami shaped popcorn made from yellow Post-It notes.
On the plus side my kids don’t seem to care and we can buy one bag and split it between the two of them. They can happily munch away as we shop.
2. Cheap ugly T-shirts
I have a fondness for T-shirts. Some of my favorite t-shirts are those that are gaudy, loud and cost between $3-$6. In Target these can be found on the sale rack of the men’s section where they mark down items that normal people haven’t bought and hope dummies like me will be enticed by the $3.99 price tag.
My love of these shirts started as a way to annoy my wife. I was picking up T-shirts to wear for our annual family beach trip. I found a bright yellow “Joker” shirt that had the Clown Prince splashed all across it. I bought it as a gag because I knew it would bother my wife. Turns out that the material was incredibly soft and felt wonderful on my eventual sunburned skin. I ended up wearing it for most of the week. She was thrilled and a new tradition was born.
It’s not a coincidence that I fell back into love with LEGOs right after my first kid was born. Before kids I doubt I ever walked down the toy aisle of Target. Now, it’s the 3rd stop on our Saturday night circle after Popcorn and Ugly T-shirt shopping. Toys today are the same as toys 20-30 years ago only more expensive, with better detail and a lot more abs. Everybody has at least 27 abs. I’m pretty sure even the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have abs. Speaking of TMNT’s did you know they’re back? I think they’re on TV because my 4 year old knows about them. Along with the TMNT there are plenty of Star Wars and DC/Marvel toys to keep any child of the 80’s entertained.
Of course all of these lines have their own LEGO sets. Which isn’t fair for me. I almost think LEGO is taunting me. It’s like they beam a laser into my brain while I sleep and mine for their next LEGO theme.
I mean look at this thing…
A bonus about hanging out in the toy section of Target with your kids is you don’t look like such a creep. There have been times when I’ve been in Target without my kids and thought about swinging by the LEGO section and browse the newest sets. With my kids I can spend 15 mins hanging out in that aisle. Without my kids I’m good for one quick walk-thru and I’m off to look at the DVDs.
4. At least I left the house today
This sounds sad but it’s not. Sometimes just dragging myself outside is my greatest accomplishment of the day. There have been times when for whatever reason, it could be the weather or if someone was sick, we haven’t left the house for days. Trapped inside with the kids as they become increasingly stir crazy. My wife and I start getting punchy. First with the kids then with each other. Eventually you’ll reach a breaking point that you just need to get outside and walk. You want to feel the sun, wind or cold on your face to make sure you’re still alive. If you’ve ever taken your dog for a 45 minute walk in the pouring rain you know what I mean.
Instead of abandoning my family and starting a new life as a hobo I pack everyone into the minivan and drive to Target. There I can put each kid in their own cart, give them some popcorn and wheel them around like normal people living normal lives. The people that work there are nice, friendly and are happy to see us again. They never judge us. Even though this is the 6th Saturday night in a row they’ve seen us. They treat us with respect and kindness.
I also notice other comrades in arms. Fellow parents with small children aimlessly wandering the well lit aisles. Our eyes will meet on occasion as we pass each other in the kid’s movies section. In a moment of solidarity we give each other a slight head nod while checking out the latest DVD from “Doc McStuffins”. As if silently saying “Hang in there brother”.
5. At least we’re all together
I’m with three other people. Two of which think this weekly outing is AWESOME. The other one is happy to just be doing anything besides watching the Rescue Bots again. There is going to be a time in the distant future when our boys are going to hate the idea of going out with their parents. Hopefully by then we will have graduated into a new form of Saturday night entertainment. We still have a few years before that though as they both love going to that place where they are paraded around like royalty as they look at toys and enjoy stale popcorn. The Target carts have become the modern day equivalent of sedan chairs. Except my wife and I are not carrying our boys around on our shoulders…yet. Everything else is pretty much the same though.
After about 30-40 minutes of browsing we purchase our $40 worth of stuff and return home (SIDE NOTE: It is a known fact that it is impossible to visit a Target without spending at least $40.)
So if you find yourself with an hour to kill on a Saturday night I highly recommend packing the family up and head out to your closest Target for some stale popcorn, discounted ugly t-shirts, and 27-packed Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle fun.
Relaxed. Refreshed. Rejuvenated. Return. That should be Target’s motto
See you Saturday.
established 2013, curated by the Hour After Happy Hour Writing Workshop
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Mr. Fenske is a professor at VCU Brandcenter in Richmond VA. The site is an extension of his efforts in the classroom, except for the cartoons, which seem to grow out of some disaffection he feels with the world. Thank you for visiting. © Mark Fenske
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