Momhood

Motherhood, insanity and everyday life.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Sleepless for Love in Milwaukee

One week ago was the official start of the 2005 holiday shopping season. In true American style, shoppers trampled each other and slept outside for the right to buy more stuff first, sooner or cheaper. Like most of you, I shook my head and gave a disgusted "tsk, tsk" at these commercial whores, making ridiculous attempts to keep up with and surpass the Joneses, the Smiths and everyone else in the neighborhood. I turned my nose up at their outlandish efforts until I remembered: "Oops, been there, done that."

Yes friends, I am here to tell you that once upon a time, I too slept outside of a store simply to purchase a piece of electronics. Why? Because I'm a mother and it's what I do. Here's the story and you can judge for yourself whether I deserve to be trampled:

It was the fall of 2000. My 8th grade son was about to turn 13. His world consisted of one thing: video games. He not only played them, he studied them, he read about them and he breathed them. For better or for worse, it was his passion. For his birthday, he wanted only one thing: Sony Playstation 2. He had put his name on a list to purchase one at the mall only to find out that Sony had craftily planned to undership, thereby insuring hyped-up demand. It was cruel and brilliant and made my son cry in desperation.

The local newscasts had stories about the high demand and low supply and interviewed store managers who bemoaned the fact that there would not be enough to go around. While my son was at school, I called every electronics retailer in the city, taking a survey of how many units they would receive in hopes I could reserve one, somehow. Alas, there would be only one way to get my hands on a PS2 and it involved getting in a line and sleeping outside.

Normally, I'd break the news to my son and just pray that the tears wouldn't last too long. But I mentioned this dilemma to my friend Jennifer (my son's godmother) and in her always adventurous spirit she said: "Let's sleep outside! I'll do it - it'll be fun!" And so began my journey towards becoming, in my son's eyes, the best mom ever.

First, I had to stake out a store where I had my best chances. Fortunately, I arrived at our local Best Buy store at around 10 pm and found myself 10th in line. I admit, I was pretty pumped. I called Jennifer and said: "C'mon down! I've got a spot in line." When I called my son, he was so excited, he could barely speak.

We were very lucky that it was an unseasonably balmy October evening, making the prospect of sleeping outside slightly less daunting. After the thrill wore down a bit, I looked around and took note of my fellow campers. Hmmm....there I was, a middle-aged mom, preparing to sleep outside of a store and I'm not only the only woman there, I'm the only person over the age of 25. Needless to say, I was a bit out of my element. Still, in any hunt, you must focus on the target. I was going to get a PS2 if I had to run over every one of these adolescents to do it.

Jennifer arrived at around 11 pm and we hunkered down and giggled for a while about how insane and wonderful this was. Then, we started to examine the logistics of food and bathrooms, neither of which would be provided by Best Buy. We figured it all out and then began observing the other campers. Those at the front of the line were young males. Eventually, others arrived that were older and more affluent, eyeing our coveted spots in the line. It became obvious that we'd have to protect our territory - i.e. spot #10. We just hoped it wouldn't get ugly. It did.

At around 11:30 pm, a car full of teenage boys roared past the store. They hung out of the windows and screamed: "Losers!" Gosh. As a mom, I'm called a lot of things, but that's not usually one of them.

Then at around 2 am, a man in his late 20s pulled up in his van, clearly frustrated by the already-too-long line and clearly under the influence of many substances. First, he tried to subtly ease his way into the front of the line. What, did he think we couldn't see him? The line wouldn't budge. Then he started yelling and swearing. He finally left in anger only to return once or twice to call us what the teenage boys in the car had called us: "Losers!" Yeah, well, we might be losers, but we're in line and he's not, so nanny-nanny boo-boo!

This was not camping under the quiet stars. Friends of line-sitters arrived to try and entertain with tricked-out cars a la "Pimp My Ride," complete with video game systems in headrests and thumping bass. Jennifer and I simply watched in awe. I silently prayed that I wasn't seeing a future version of my son.

As the night wore on, everyone quieted down. Jen and I alternated between sleeping and chatting with the boys in front of us whose father slept in a car nearby for their safety. (See, I'm not the only insane parent!)

When morning arrived, so did reporters, soon-to-be disappointed latecomers and my husband and kids with coffee and breakfast. I still remember the glow on my son's face as he looked at his mom and his godmother going to ridiculous lengths for his benefit.

We survived until the store opened when management escorted us to the holy grail, i.e. the Playstation 2 units and I could wrap my arms around the coveted item and breathe a deep sigh of relief...mission accomplished. Since Jennifer was also in line, she generously agreed to purchase a unit for my son's friend, making the two of us even more popular than before.

We returned home to phone calls of astonishment from friends and family. We became legends on the playground at school. I could hear whispers of shock and awe as I approached the flock of parents waiting for their children after school.

The real hero in all of this was Jennifer. If it weren't for her, I wouldn't have slept outside and made my son the happiest he had ever been in his life. If it weren't for her, I would have missed out on one of the most bizarre and fun memories of my adult years.

I still remember watching my son unpack his PS2 after school that day. Nothing is as gratifying to a parent as watching their child in a moment like that. I can still feel the grateful hug he gave me that day.

I'm not sure if I'd do it again, but I'm sure glad I did it. Sometimes, if it feels right, you do what you have to.

29 Comments:

At 9:16 AM , Anonymous Deana said...

You are a good mom! Visiting via Michele's, I enjoyed your story. Its amazing what people will go through...

 
At 10:06 AM , Blogger ma said...

You and Jennifer rock!!!! I remember when you dropped off the second PS2 for our lucky boy, he was walking on air. It's not often that a person sees pure joy in a teen boy....it was wonderful. Our guy is lucky to have a good friend with the coolest mother and godmother in the world. You guys created some fun memories.

 
At 10:12 AM , Anonymous The Cryer said...

I LOVE your story! It's the spontaneous, crazy, neat stuff like that reveals who we really are. Lucky son you have!!

Here from Michele's... saw you got skipped so thought I'd pop in!

 
At 10:22 AM , Blogger Cin said...

Morning! Here from Michele's. I think what you did for your son rightly belongs in category of family legend, to be passed down for generations. You rock!

 
At 10:40 AM , Blogger Tara said...

Your story reminds me of the time my Granny played tug of war with a Cabbage Patch Doll with another lady....just so all three of her granddaughters could have one, lol. And she WAS our hero for it.

 
At 10:44 AM , Blogger Juliabohemian said...

My Mom would never do that for me. That's amazing. I know what you mean about "studying" the video games. My husband and brother have these books with all the game's secrets and whatnot and they read them like they are the gospel.

 
At 10:45 AM , Anonymous Utopia said...

I hate shopping. I hate this time of the year. I hate the greed, the lights the over all tackiness of it. But, I love the people.

Anyway, Hello! Michele sent me.

 
At 10:57 AM , Blogger Dave said...

There's an old saying - 'A man's gotta do what a mans gotta do!'. I'm sure it applies to Mums just as well. Good for you. By the way here from Michele's.

 
At 11:05 AM , Blogger Sandy said...

I think getting yourself into *the* store on the day after Thanksgiving is one of those things you agree to in the delivery room. You know, they hand you that secret contract before the baby appears and you agree to do everything from getting spit up all over, hearing how uncool and just wrong you are, being one of those retail whores on said Friday, etc. All in exchange for the embodiment of love.

Michele sent me!

 
At 11:17 AM , Blogger Anita said...

What an awesome (and oh so funny) story! My kids are similarly video game obsessed, but so far I have yet to sleep outside. You are much braver than I. The first call of "loser" would probably have sent me scurrying home PS2less.

 
At 11:19 AM , Blogger Carmi said...

Hi Karen. What an inspiring story. I've long believed the best parents are those who would stop at nothing to do for their kids.

We had 'em. And we are their world. So it makes sense to stretch just that little bit extra to ensure they feel safe and loved.

Good on ya!

Visiting from Michele's today...

 
At 2:41 PM , Anonymous callie said...

ah, yes. the ps2 waiting game. have to love it. i do not have kids, but waited in an equally insane line with my boyfriend...for his christmas gift. i like your story better. kids appreciate it so much more than boyfriends! plus, he still plays it too much! :-)

i'm here from michele's today but i'll be back on my own.

 
At 2:44 PM , Blogger Barbara said...

Karen - What parents won't do for their kids. Glad you survived the night outside.

 
At 3:43 PM , Anonymous Chickadee said...

Wow, you ARE a GREAT mom! You have provided a great story and a great memory for you and your family. My mom and my Aunt once spent the night outside the baseball stadium to get us World Series tickets.

 
At 9:01 PM , Blogger Star said...

Good story. I hope your son still appreciates it. And if not, well. he'll have kids someday!

 
At 2:22 AM , Blogger novaks8 said...

Good mom!

I drove 2.5 hours to see Harry Potter a couple of friday nights ago!

(not to mention that I love HP as much or more than my sons but still....)

I love doing things for my kids.

 
At 8:22 AM , Blogger Chatty said...

Never ever ever will I shop on Black Friday or during the Christmas season. All year long, yes, Christmas season I do most online.

Michele sent me.

 
At 8:23 AM , Blogger Plumkrazzee said...

Good Mommy!! I would do this in a heartbeat. I'm Plumkrazzee and all. =) My neighbors across the street just spent the night at Best Buy on Thanksgiving so they could buy a computer for each of their children for xmas...they got there at 7 p.m. and were the first in line. The store opened at 5 a.m. And it was snowing!!! Brave, brave souls! I love it! Michele sent me today.

 
At 8:33 AM , Blogger Chas Ravndal said...

I wished my mom will do that for me but sadly I don't remember any happy memories at all. You're son is very lucky to have a mother like you.

Btw, Michele sent me

 
At 6:50 AM , Blogger panthergirl said...

What a great story!!! One question, though: How did you go to the bathroom? When you said "the holy grail", I was thinking "Women's Room". !!!!

Good for you, though...you're a great mom!

Here via michele, but I'm not done. ;)

 
At 7:02 AM , Blogger Juggling Mother said...

I don't know - i hope I don't ever have to do something like this - but I can see it happening!

I would make my son come with me though. If he really, desperately wants something that much he should put the effort in too:-)

Generally, on principle we do not buy "new releases" of anything. But I don't know how long I'll be able to hold out for!

Michele sent me BTW

 
At 8:55 AM , Blogger kontan said...

mine are still too young but i imagine one day i too will have to camp for something. that was great of you to go to crazy lengths to make your son happy. 100% worth it i'm sure!

 
At 8:56 AM , Blogger kontan said...

ooops! here via michele!

 
At 9:05 AM , Blogger Plumkrazzee said...

Michele sent me back, happy weekend!

 
At 11:02 AM , Blogger Marisa said...

You are the coolest mom ever!!!!!

Plus, it doesn't hurt that your kids are too old for whatever Elmo concoction they come up with next.

 
At 6:49 AM , Blogger Marie said...

You rock, Mom! He'll never ever forget this... and now he owes you BIG time! Wait til you need a humungo favor before cashing in.... (kidding)

Michele sent me!

 
At 10:33 PM , Blogger Mrs. Flinger said...

I'll file this under "things they never tell you" about being a mom. :-)

 
At 6:34 AM , Anonymous MissMeliss said...

Good morning! Michele sent me, and I'm glad she did, because this was a great story. My mother never slept outside a store for me, but I'm sure there were things she did for me that pushed the bounds of 'sanity' - in a good way, of course.

Here's hoping you stay warm today. I'm in TEXAS, and we might even get snow.

 
At 3:44 PM , Anonymous Heels said...

I would never want to do it in a million years, but I get it.

I get it.

You did good.

 

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