A Mother’s Reflection on a Shopping Trip with Her Kids
Shopping Malls Bring Me Both Joy and Fear
Since my early teen years, I have developed a true love for shopping malls. There is just so much to love!
Cute outfits draped across gold plated mannequins.
Bright lights and marquee signs.
Numerous restaurants all in one location. (Genius!)
Oh yes, it is a wondrous place.
But when I start to think about a glorious day out at the mall, an unpleasant feeling begins to come over me. It is one of both fear and dread, brought on by the thought of taking my children with me!
I do not mean any offense to them, of course. They certainly don’t mean to ruin my good time and nearly drive me to a nervous breakdown, but it just seems inevitable once we open that outer mall door.
Yes, once inside, things just start happening.
Little by little, my kids’ behaviors and attitudes all seem to come together to create the perfect storm. And it usually turns out to be a big one!
My kids would say that I tend to exaggerate just how bad it can be. But I’ll fill you in on our last experience and let you make that decision.
I Thank God for My Kids…But They Weren’t Made for Malls!
The minute we step into the mall, it’s like my kids become everything I hope they won’t be.
They start running and jumping, giggling loudly with each other as they dart in and out of clothes racks. Although I am happy that they are feeling such joy, I can feel my stomach start to churn with nervous anticipation of what will happen next.
With furrowed eyebrows and a desperate look in my eyes, I quietly (yet forcefully) whisper, “Just be good! Try not to act like you would at home!”
But they just laugh and run off to hide in the next set of clothes racks.
At least someone is carefree and having fun, I guess.
1) Dreaded Escalators
It’s not long until my kids emerge from the clothes racks only to set their eyes upon the Holy Grail of shopping malls.
Yes indeed, these shiny sets of moving stairs are almost too much for my sheltered children to handle.
To them, it’s the stuff dreams are made of.
With great excitement, my kids come rushing up to me, exclaiming, “Mom! Look! The escalators! Can we go?”
And without waiting for a response from me, they dash off to take advantage of the “unlimited rides” policy and the fact that there are no tickets required!
It’s better than a trip to the zoo by far!
As I watch them disappear to the upper level, I frantically dart around to the other side of the store where the other escalator is located, hoping it will bring them back down soon.
And I must hurry. You never know where a kidnapper may be lurking! I’ll bet those kinds of wretched people know how much kids love escalators. So I need to be on high alert!
But as I reach the other side, I realize that my kids are already going back UP the side I just ran from! Oh, will the misery ever end?
After about an hour and 50 trips on the escalator, it finally does. I get them rounded up, and we head off to our next stop at Bath & Body.
This should be fun.
2) Shopping at Bath & Body. Sounds Relaxing Doesn’t It.
Bath and Body is virtually every woman’s favorite store.
There are lotions and soaps with inviting, soothing names like “A Thousand Wishes” and “Tahiti Island Dream,” which promise to transport you to extraordinary places that do not in any way resemble a kitchen sink or laundry room.
Sounds like a dream, doesn’t it?
But as my children start pulling on my giant, oversized purse, causing me to experience a kink in my neck and extreme shoulder pain, I begin to think that those Bath & Body scents are nothing but a big scam.
Right now I’m not being transported to anywhere, except to a reality I was trying to escape.
I try to keep my calm and quietly ask my children what they want.
Another hand sanitizer case?
Didn’t I just buy them one last time? And the time before that?
Actually, if my memory serves me correctly, I do believe that just last week I opened my older daughter’s dresser drawer to discover a stockpile of penguins, lions, butterflies, cats and other woodland and sea creatures…ALL which were hand sanitizer cases!
Isn’t a private collection of zoo animals enough for one girl?
In desperation, I grab my children’s hands quickly and head out of the glimmer and gleam of Bath & Body. It is simply too much for any of us to handle!
3) My Kids Have Opinions on Fashion
By now I am nearly at the point of giving up, but when I think of my favorite ladies’ clothing store, my heart begins to surge with hope.
I just know I’ll find some fashionable, yet conservative, pants and shirts I love!
When we walk in, my face begins to beam with happiness as my children’s eyes sink with despair. Looking for “Mommy” clothes will take the wind right out of them! (Yes!)
They settle down into a slump and shuffle quietly behind me with an occasional whine every now and then.
Then, before my very eyes, I behold a large display table full of colored pants. Just what my heart had been wishing for! And right next to them are some adorable tanks that are long enough to cover my entire butt. Jackpot!
Excitedly, I grab up a bunch of colors and head to the dressing room. Things are really looking up!
In the meantime, my kids sit on the chairs outside the dressing room, eyes glazed over. But as I strut out of my dressing room to show them my new digs, they come to full attention. My daughter looks at my camouflage leggings and says, “That’s not cool, Mom.”
I look at her with shock and ask why. She just looks at me in horror and says, “It’s just not right! You’re too old!”
Well, I don’t know who made her the fashion police, but I guess when they reach the age of 8, they think they understand all of the intricacies of fashion design and what seems right for the aging population.
Nonetheless, I decide to buy the pants anyway, just to show her who is still in control. But I must say, she pretty much decimated every ounce of joy that those camouflage pants could have brought me.
4) The Kiosks Are Just Too Inviting
As we leave my favorite store and enter the main area of the shopping mall again, it’s as if my kids come back to life again. They see kiosks full of fidget spinners and other ridiculous toys that aren’t worth $15.99, and their eyes light up and they start to run and jump again.
I decide to let them indulge themselves for awhile since they had to sit for a whole 15 minutes while I tried on my pants in the last store.
They deserve a little something for having such patience.
I sit down on a bench as they look around. Maybe I’ll have some peace and relaxation yet.
However, as my kids spot a jewelry kiosk just a short distance away, I know my 10 seconds of peace is over. As I see them heading that way, I jump up from the bench so that they don’t get too far away (kidnappers, you know!).But before I can reach the jewelry kiosk, I already sense that disaster is about to happen... Click To Tweet
Right next to the jewelry kiosk stands a mannequin with shiny bracelets up and down its arm.
Shiny Stuff and Public Places
Shiny jewelry. Mannequins. A public place. This spells disaster.
One of my kids is oohing and ahhing at the bracelets, touching each one (of course), because…well, why wouldn’t you?
And the other one has decided to become quite the jokester, introducing herself to the mannequin, trying to shake its hand, and asking why the cat has got her tongue.
She laughs out loud to herself as if she is the first one to ever think about joking around with a mannequin.
And then it happens.
Right in mid-grip, the mannequin’s arm comes tumbling off its body and crashes to the floor. She stares in horror at what she has done.
At this exact time I come rushing up beside her and proclaim, “What have you done this time??”
She looks up at me with fear in her eyes and tosses the plastic arm right at me. Then she dashes off about 20 feet away, where she hopes she has found a safe zone from my wrath and any looks of disgust from the kiosk salesperson.
I flip my switch to sweet motherly mode and walk humbly to the counter, apologizing for any inconvenience we have made.
The man just looks at me in disgust and snatches the arm away.
Good-bye to You Shopping Mall. Forever.
The kids are pretty deflated as we walk out to our car. It hasn’t exactly been an ideal day.
I think some pretty good adjectives to describe it would be…
Just to name a few.
But as I look at their sweet, sorrowful faces as we walk out in the parking lot, my mommy heart starts to beat with love again, and I come up next to them and give them big hugs.
“It’s ok,” I tell them. “Mom still loves you.”
I see a glimmer of hope in their eyes.
“You know what?” I say, “We may never come to the mall again, but no one said that the drive-thru at McDonald’s is off limits! Let’s go!”
My children squeal in excitement. And I can almost see the glimmer of golden arches shining in their eyes.
I get caught up in the moment and even exclaim, “And maybe we’ll even go to the Playplace! No one cares what happens out there!”
My kids shout with glee and hug me tight as if I were the most wonderful person in the whole world.
I guess the entire day didn’t turn out that bad after all.
Yes, love and forgiveness are always the key. More than anything else, these two things can make the world a better place all over again.
But that doesn’t change my mind about one thing:
I ain’t takin’ my kids shopping no more!