Back when I could get all my Christmas shopping done at Toys R Us, I used to go out into the Black Friday frenzy with a couple of girl friends and take care of business. It was a rush and I always had a great time.
Then Christmas lists evolved and somehow, most of the things my kids wanted were NOT on sale and would never be on sale until next year when they would want something else completely.
Black Friday and I had had a good run and I was fine to end our early-morning relationship.
But before I could cut ties with Black Friday completely, I had a request from Ethan. He'd saved up some money and wanted to take advantage of some electronics sales. He wanted to stand in line at 4am on Black Friday and go shopping. So I took him.
It was just the two of us. We hit Toys R Us, Target and Fred Meyer. We were on a mission. We worked together. We got in and we got out. Mission accomplished!
And you know what? We had fun. So, for the last three or four years, Ethan and I have gone out on Black Friday together.
You know how kids build a wall of independence--which is good, but some of the bricks in that wall are "I have to pretend I'm not having too much fun with you" bricks. There are also the "we can't have meaningful conversation or you might think I can't figure things out on my own" bricks. And don't forget the, "if you like it, it must be lame" bricks.
I don't know if it's the extreme fatigue, or the Bizarro up is down, down is up-ness of the whole Black Friday concept, or the cover of darkness that accompanies much of the shopping experience, but Ethan temporarily kicks a hole in his wall of independence right through those bricks.
For a few short hours on the day after Thanksgiving, they're gone.
He turns into the chatty four-year-old who was full of wonder and excitement. Except he's 15 and we have more in common and can talk about ideas (well, sort of) and there is no need for facades.
Now, we haven't reached the "deep, meaningful conversation" level of interaction yet. He hasn't shared his hopes and fears--beyond "I hope the iPod touch hasn't sold out" and "what will I do if it has?!" But I don't care. Black Friday shopping with Ethan is one of those mother times were I think my heart might burst with happiness.
And that is why I will always venture out at 4am with Ethan on the day after Thanksgiving as long as he wants to go.