This particular Saturday started off pretty average but that was just temporary. My younger daughter, recently engaged, was going dress shopping and she was taking with her my wife and older daughter, my older daughter with the two children. It was decided, though I do not recall being part of the decision making process, that Opa, aka me, would take care of the babysitting while they shopped. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Jackson and Adela arrived bright and early, ready for an adventure day with Opa.
It started well, well sort of. Twenty minutes after they left and after I had asked, I swear several times, Adela announced that she had wet her only pair of pants. Quick lesson in how to comfort a two year old and do laundry ensued. We all settled back down and things looked better. That is until both Jackson and Adela decided they couldn’t decide on a common movie or a separate toy. With war and bloodshed imminent I decided it was time to take action.
Road Trip! I strapped Jackson and Adela into my Jeep along with all the necessities a bag could hold and that I might need should this trip go south. “Where are we going” asked Jackson. Having not really thought about that, Cabelas some how flew into my head. I figured fish aquarium, stuffed animals, tents, yeah that one doesn’t seem to make sense now that I say it out loud, why wouldn’t this be a great place to kill a few hours.
We arrived with Jackson still asking me why not McDonald’s instead but once we walked through the doors, the wonder of Cabelas at Christmas took over. Right there at the front door was a massive Christmas tree littered with gifts around its base. Adela struck first. She figured they were there for her and pounced, ready to unwrap. I managed to wedge her free and then distracted her with a game of I spy various animals foraging about in the store. Jackson of course wanted to know why they had all these dead animals on display, displays that clearly said DON’T TOUCH. Guess I should have remembered that Adela doesn’t read and animals are to be petted. As I turned around to check on her, she was of course making friends with a small black bear. This of course alerted the store staff to our presence. I spotted him out of the corner of my eye heading our way and he didn’t look like he was about to ask if I needed help finding the perfect outdoors man gift. I snatched up Adela and headed to another department leaving the staff person relieved.
Next stop, the aquarium. I suppose tapping on the glass broke yet another store rule but as Jackson pointed out the fish seemed to like it. Adela decided to go one better and decided to kiss the fish through the glass. Enter yet another staffer. We peeled off yet again and headed toward the front. I swear I saw the staff person speaking into her wrist like they do on those FBI shows. I can only assume she was saying something like “They’re on the move. We need eyes on a lack of control grandpa with two kids in the guns and ammo department.”
We had indeed wound up in guns and ammo and I knew in an instant not a place for a two and five year old let alone how their mother might view this shameful disregard for appropriate care and handling of young impressionable minds. We kept moving. This brought us somehow to the toys aisle. Yes there are toys in Cabelas and no I have no idea why it is next to guns and ammo. But to Jackson and Adela’s shear delight, we were there. To his credit, Jackson began having me make a list of the toys he would like me to recommend to his parents. Adela, being a little more deliberate, was piling them up at the end of the aisle. I am sure you are asking yourself how she could keep getting away from my jurisdiction. Have you ever spent time with a five year old asking questions? They can distract the best of us and meanwhile a two year moves a lot faster and stealthier than you think. And of course, we had a new staff person standing guard near by. We got all the toys put back and I gave a subtle nod to the staffer as we passed by.
At this point I was rethinking my entire modus operandi. I was looking for the straightest path to the front doors. I spied my break but one more department stood in our path, sunglasses. These were the expensive kind of sunglasses. The kind movie stars apparently wear when hunting wild animals. But we were moving and I was optimistic for success when Jackson found a compass and wanted an in store demonstration of how this “watch” worked. I swear it could not have been more than thirty seconds and I heard “hey Opa” from behind me. Turning around, there was Adela modeling a pair of $200 plus aviators, the price tag still hanging from the frames, and I have to say, killin it! Just over her shoulder, moving at a fair clip came the sunglasses clerk, wrist already up to her mouth calling in reinforcements. “Adela”, I declared. “We can look but we can’t touch.” Probably should have thought of that earlier. To my sweet and innocent granddaughter’s credit, she removed the glasses, folded them up and politely returned them to their little cubicle. I, with my hands in the air, greeted the clerk and said “see, no harm, no foul.” Adela batted her eyes, twisted her hair and the clerk relented. What else she could do faced with all that charm. She gave me one last stern look and asked if we were nearly done shopping. I took that as the warning it was meant to be, hung my head and rounded up my charges.
At this point, we had amassed a lot of staff time, though I believe it was good training and maybe for a couple of them, birth control, but no merchandise. I looked at Jackson and told him we probably should buy something out of consideration. Jackson choose a bag of $1.99 licorice, we paid the cashier, and to the relief of many, we took our leave.
Now I am a former teacher and well aware that there should be a lesson learned from all of this, so here it is. Though a hunting and camping store may not be the best grandchild environment, it does make for a great story.
Thanks for reading.