Friday, December 23, 2005

Mission Accomplished!

No, not making a political statement here. It's just that yours truly had to buy a couple of Christmas presents for a certain four-year-old, while being accompanied by said four-year-old. This same four-year-old is aware enough to question why I'm buying whatever I happen to be buying, so I had to resort to subterfuge to accomplish my task.

There were two major hurdles that I had to overcome: getting the toys off the shelf and into the cart unnoticed, and then get the toys through the checkout without someone being the wiser. Fortunately, it is not that difficult to go over the head of a four-year-old, provided you engage in a bit of pre-planning. For the first hurdle, I determined that the best course of action would be to throw a red herring or two across her path and distract her:

"Where are those toy kitties you were talking about? How many are there? Go count them."


So, while she had her back turned, I deftly grabbed the toy dinosaur off the shelf and quickly concealed it under the baby's blanket. I didn't quite have time enough to cover it properly, but it would suffice unless she decided to conduct a careful inspection of the shopping cart. Thankfully, she is not astute enough to notice things like boxy bulges under blankets.

One toy down, one to go. First of all, I had to pick a target for the second toy, and finally settled on a colored doodle toy. This time, she was busy playing with a demo of some electronic toy, so this task was a little easier; all I had to do was keep her engaged while I did my deed, and a little guided conversation assured that she remained occupied with the demo until I had finished.

With the toys safely hidded under the blanket, I now had time to ponder my other hurdle - how to pay for these toys without her seeing? At first, I thought of accosting a stranger, explaining my plight, and ask if they would take the toys through the checkout with cash that I provided. But the two toys put me over my cash-on-hand, so that was out of the question. Okay, what's my plan B? I decided to go through the checkout and see if I could enlist the help of the person behind me in line. As I explained my situation and what I planned to do, the woman behind me graciously agreed to be co-conspirator and distract my daughter while I took the toys out of the cart, had the cashier ring them up first, then put them back in the cart, hidden by my coat. It worked beautifully. The woman, who had a four-year-old of her own and was naturally sympathetic, was showing my dd the different candies and things she was buying for her own children, and was doing a splendid job of engaging my daughter and keeping her from noticing what was going on behind her back.

The rest of the trip was a breeze. I always put the kids in the car before I unload the cart, so there was no chance of her seeing anything in the trunk - which is where the toys still are, and will remain for the time being. One still has to be wrapped, but Santa doesn't have to get the other one until tomorrow night...

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