the puppy sticker

Don’t keep reading if a little foul language offends your eyes. Do keep reading if you are a fan of Target.

“Where is my STICKER?” Owen screamed. I sighed. We’d been at the playground for a whole 10 minutes before the first melt down. I calmly told him it was in the car, but he was inconsolable. It’s hard. At 40 I realize that small things like stickers come and go, but at “almost 3”, as he calls himself, the sticker that Owen received earlier that morning at the doctor’s office meant everything to him. He began frantically retracing his steps at the playground which I found impressive. I was almost certain that the sticker was somewhere in the car, and when he couldn’t calm down I decided it was time to go. I walked a very sad Owen and a very confused Avery very slowly back to the car. These days if the twins are having melt downs my only recourse is to leave. Immediately.

We climbed into the car and to my surprise the missing Spiderman sticker was nowhere to be found. “F—” I silently muttered to myself. Owen was right, that stupid sticker had fallen off at the playground. But by now, everyone was too much of a hot mess to go back to the playground, so we ventured on.

I cheerfully told Owen that the sticker would show up because those kinds of things always do, and he wiped his tears. It had already been a hard day for him. His favorite blue car was doing hard time in time out in response to him biting his twin sister. And then I had completely lost my shit when I discovered that he had purposely thrown kitty litter all over the hallway. And let’s not forget the trip out to the doctor. And now this missing sticker. It’s hard being almost three.

Throughout lunch he was still tearful about the missing sticker. And as he laid down for his nap the last words he whimpered were “my sticker” as he drifted off to sleep. Sigh. It would be better after naps. Everything is better after naps.

By dinnertime, Owen was still upset about the stupid sticker. I admired his dedication and announced that we would go buy a new sticker. He yelled “a puppy sticker??!!” Um, ok. Sure a puppy sticker. We piled into the car and headed to Target for two things, a puppy sticker for Owen and hand towels for the powder room.

In the parking lot both twins started asking for a cart. No, no cart. We are here for a puppy sticker and hand towels. Two things. That’s all. We don’t need a cart.

My first really stupid thing of the day was to ignore Owen when he shouted “look what I’m doing” thereby giving him ample time to throw kitty litter all over the first floor. My next really stupid thing was not looking harder at the playground for the missing sticker. But by far the most stupid thing (that day) was actually thinking that I was going to leave Target with just “two things” It is just not possible. Target is crack for suburban mothers. You take one taste and find yourself with $200.00 worth of bullshit in a half hour.

We headed down the aisles and I congratulated myself for not purchasing the Frozen themed make up box that Avery just had to have. We meandered through the aisles and found ourselves in front of luggage. Owen said “puppy sticker!” and I assured him that the puppy sticker was still on the list. But first, I needed to check out these two adorable rolling suitcases that were perfectly sized for almost three year olds. Each twin grabbed a suitcase and started walking up and down the aisle. I weighed my options. On one hand it is easier to pack their stuff in one big case. On the other hand they are getting bigger and it’s time to have them start having some individuality. Thirty bucks. Hummm…Would they even fit in the van with all the other stuff? I’d still have to pack a third bag for miscellaneous stuff as the cases weren’t all that big. Both came running back towards me and I realized that the wheels on the case had flashing lights. Oh yeah. Flashing lights. Sold.

We rolled the cases down toward the towel aisle stopping only briefly to pick up a case of Pull Ups. As I whipped out my paint chip to match new towels, Owen emphatically reminded me “PUPPY STICKER”. Yes, yes. Puppy sticker it is on the list. I grabbed four chocolate colored hand towels and a small brown wicker bin and we continued deeper into Target.

After finding a child’s life vest, I began to rethink my no cart decision. But we were too far into Target to go back now. I packed the towels and the vest into the rolling suitcases and we headed over to the art supply section.

Target had a pretty good selection of stickers. Hello Kitty. Thomas. Dr. McWhat’s Her Face. Frozen. But, no puppies. Nada. Zip. No Snoopy. No Paw Patrol. Nothing remotely canine. Owen whimpered “Puppy Sticker.” and my stomach fell. “How about Olaf?” I cheerfully suggested. “Or Thomas! Look here’s a blue Thomas”


It was a low moan. Think Exorcist.

And then he repeated louder and in a higher pitch “PUPPPEEEE STICKER! PuuuuuuPEEEEEE STICKER” This continued until my son reached a pitch level that only actual puppies could hear.

I juggled the enormous Thomas sticker book with the rest of the BS I’d acquired and began to plan my next move. Now I don’t feel the need to have to please my kids all the time. And I also think that it is a part of life work to through not getting what you want. My thoughts went back to the time my friend Amanda had dragged me out to a – wait for it – Target – for towels (oh the irony) I watched in horror as my normally calm and cool friend proceeded to have what would be akin to a toddler type melt down after she was unable to find towels that didn’t have the “little lines on them”. Stupid Target. Letting everyone down. Screw you Target!! Amanda had finally relented to the fact that Target doesn’t carry everything, but Owen is only “almost three” Further complicating the matter is the fact that anytime we need something I tell him we’ll get it at Target (regardless of where I’m going to actually buy the item.) And I, his mother, the one he counts on, had told him….had promised him a g-damn puppy sticker. Failure.

I racked my brain as to what to do to fix the situation. Bribe? Well, yes obviously. But what? He’s so fixated. M&Ms? Slurpee at the snack bar? Cash? Dammitt. Why didn’t I look harder for that sticker?

Sobbing (the two of us – Avery was pretty cheerful – thank goodness) we walked over to the checkout line. It was then that I remembered Target’s area of completely unnecessary and rather cheap crap. Maybe there were some puppy stickers here. It was worth a shot.

Bust. No puppy sticker. Instead, we tearfully decided on a cheap plastic dump truck which Avery was already screaming for him to share as we piled our stuff at check out. Somehow through all the crying and whining I remembered all the stuff I’d piled inside the suitcases. That would have been icing on the cake…calling Mike to bail me out for shoplifting. Although at that moment a quiet jail cell was starting to look pretty inviting.

The clerk was super friendly and cheerfully asked the how old the twins were. Distracted by Owen’s tears and Avery’s whining I softly answered “almost three,” and signed the credit card receipt to the tune of $180.00. Ugh, Target. I wish I knew how to quit you. A crack addition would be more economical.

Still smiling, the clerk gushed, “They are just SO cute! A boy and a girl! You are so lucky! Hey, can I give them a sticker?”


We all froze as silence overtook our unhappy group. As she opened up her cabinet drawer I started screaming in my head, “Oh my good GAWD. Freaking TARGET!!!” and watched as she peeled off two stickers of the Target Dog.

Puppy. Freakin. Sticker.