When we arrived at 9:35 I expected a line. This line was a bit longer than I anticipated but, I could see the storefront far in the distance. "Surely it wouldn't take too much longer than originally anticipated. I could give it more than an hour, 2ish was acceptable. Plus, I knew the person behind me from work which made the wait less terrible." I thought to myself. By 10:20, I had purchased some Dip'n'Dots from a vending machine we stood next to for a bit to calm the irritation starting to show in my children's sweet, innocent faces. In addition, Netflix was entertaining the older two and my youngest was having a blast walking around in my general vicinity. At 11:30 a friend farther up the line by about 20 people shared some of her snacks with us. We had long run out of the few I had brought for my anticipated hour long wait. The kids happily scarfed down pretzels and juice boxes while finishing up their movie and the baby had a blast running around showing off his toothy grin to his new friends in line. "I got this." I thought. They're good for a bit longer with the snacks.
By 1pm I realized that I had made one of the worst mistakes of my life. At this point the storefront was still just a speck in the distance and my current position in front of the exit doors to the mall was beginning to get uncomfortably hot. I was also forming friendships with my fellow linemates. We were all regretting our day' s choices but it had gone too far now. We had to finish. Wasting the last few hours was an unacceptable alternative. "Surely it wouldn't take too much longer. The line seemed to be moving a little faster now." I thought to myself.
At 1:30, a BAB store representative came by offering us $15 vouchers if we wanted to leave and come back another day. The fine print (which the employee did not mention) stated that it was only redeemable on certain animals. My fellow line tribe and I all politely declined and upon her departure immediately began to discuss how insulting the offer was. "Does she understand how long I've been in line?! I'm going to need more than a lousy $15 voucher to leave now!" Said one of my brethren.
By 3pm my phone was dead. My 4 and 7 year old's were barely holding it together and the 1.5 year old was a crazy mess who kept running off and was surprisingly adept at bobbing and weaving through the now busy mall foot traffic. Luckily, my new friends in line had children that were playing with mine, and we were all helping look out for each other's kids whenever one tried to run off or we had to take a trip to the bathroom and didn't want to lose our spots. We were all in this hell together. Why make it harder than it had to be by being jerks?
By 4pm the storefront to BAB was so close we knew it couldn't be much longer. I wondered if I needed to cancel my daughter's 5pm piano lesson. "Yes.", I thought. There was no way we'd make it. Then I began to ask myself deep questions like, "Who am I? How did I become this person? What led me to be the kind of crazy person you read about on the news that waited in line for more than 6 hours simply for a deal on silly, stuff it yourself teddy bears? What happened to me?" I could sense my new, equally tortured friends asking themselves the same questions as their brows furrowed and they shifted the weight from one foot to the other in a vain attempt to ease the pain caused by holding a 30lb human for hours on end.
With my phone dead I asked one of my new friends to borrow their phone so my husband could cancel piano. "We'll probably be done at 5pm but I don't think we can make across town in time.", I naively stated.
At 5pm we finally entered the coveted entrance guarded by the giant plastic bears dressed as drummers. "We made it!", I screamed with my now best friends. We even took a celebratory photograph to document the achievement. Little did we know that the real hell had not even begun.
At 5:20 we finally entered the store and quickly selected our new furry friends. With joy and excitement we began to walk towards the stuffing station when, to our horror, we realized that the entire interior perimeter of the store was the line for stuffing. "Holy F***", I thought (Ok, maybe I said it out loud. I mean, every one there was thinking it. Besides, we've been through things together. No one will fault me for some vulgarity at this point.) Then we began the long, horrific, tear-filled journey to the stuffing station. The baby threw multiple fits and continually ran off, my son asked me to have "a really cool" accessory for his purple unicorn every five seconds and my daughter, well, actually, she was pretty ok. She was in an outrage over the prices for the accessories, "This costs $18!", she exclaimed about a particular sparkly outfit. "That's crazy!". Mind you, she was only investigating prices of accessories because I told her she had to pay for any she decided she decided her giant pink bunny needed.
At 6:00pm we finally reached the check-out a hot pink bunny, purple rainbow unicorn and tiger had now joined our crew. Tired, broken and hungry, we left the mall in a hurry. My children toting their newest prized possessions with immense pride and gratitude. They gained a new toy and learned a valuable lesson about patience, determination and the importance of supporting those around you. I basked in the glory of victory and the joy on my son's face as he hugged his unicorn tightly against his chest and gleefully named it Candy Fain.
We did it. We survived pay your age day. There were tears, laughter, smiles, and frowns. There was even a little blood from when my 1.5 year old bumped his mouth on a counter top in the store. We all learned valuable lessons and made new friends. It was an experience that I will forever remember and will cause those new fluffy friends to always be members of this family, passed down generation to generation and their story along with them. We did it. We survived. And we will never do it again.