I'm not a mall girl. Used to be one, back in the day - logged a great many hours shopping at Contempo Casuals and Benetton, stopping for the occasional slice of pizza at Sbarro's or for ice cream at the food court. These days, though, I tend to go to the mall once or twice a calendar quarter. Usually, it's a run-in, run-out sort of thing on my lunch break, and very occasionally I will venture in with husband and kids in tow.
I can count on one hand the number of times that I have gone to the mall accompanied by the youngest child and no one else. That count grew by one last weekend.
See, back in December, Build A Bear brought a mobile bear-stuffing unit to the Junior Woman's Club Christmas open house. Folks donated funds to pay for animals and clothing, and our youngest guests offered their labor in stuffing and dressing the animals, which were then donated to charity. I never made it upstairs to witness all of this, but I am advised that my boys played an integral part in the stuffing-and-dressing process, making a concerted effort to create boy-friendly animals. In fact, the director of the program that received the animals saw fit to comment (favorably) on the boy-to-girl animal ratio. As a result, my boys scored three $10 coupons to Build A Bear. Coupons which have been burning holes in their pockets ever since.
Since (1) Big Brother spent the weekend cooped up at home with the latest virus making the rounds and (2) Mom missed Little Brother's first soccer game as a result, I decided that a trip to Build A Bear for Parker was in order. We left the house with specific instructions from Connor to apply his gift certificate allowance towards a Jedi costume for his Build A Bear monkey. And so the one-on-one adventure began . . . .
Here are some snippets from "Mom and Parker's Big Shopping Adventure":
Parker: Mom, MOM. You just missed the mall. You drove right past it.
Me: I'm going around to the other side, so that we can enter on the ground floor. [Note: Our local mall is built on a hillside, such that eastern-facing doors enter on the second floor and western-facing doors enter on the first. Another note: I don't relish riding escalators with my six year-old. He is squirmy and prone to falls, of both the actual and "prat" variety. And, having worked retail in college, I am aware of what can happen if a kid falls on an escalator, in terms of lost fingers, lost chunks of scalp if their hair gets caught between two steps - trust me, it ain't pretty. Hence my desire to enter on the same level as Build A Bear.]
Parker: Oh. I didn't realize that our mall had two sides.
[A few minutes later.]
Parker: Mom, MOM. You keep driving past really good parking places.
Me: Those are handicapped parking places, Parker.
Parker. Oh. So? THEY ARE REALLY GOOD ONES, MOM.
[As we are getting out of the car, and taking note of the F18 that just took off from the Joint Reserve Base that is adjacent to the mall.]
Me: Parker, do you hear that?
Parker: Yeah, Mom, it's a jet. They take off from the mall all of the time. They just do that here. It's no big deal.
[After finishing our Build A Bear shopping, taking note of the fact that the child had wiped his nose and then grabbed my hand with that hand, and calculating the odds that he was harboring his brother's germs.]
Me: Hey, let's stop in Bath & Body Works for a minute. Oh, what do you know? Antibacterial hand sanitizers, 5 for $5. That's a pretty good deal; we should take advantage of it.
[A few minutes later.]
Parker: Blueberry, Mom. I want the blueberry kind.
[A few minutes after that, having left the mall and returned to the car.]
Me: Ugh. What is that STENCH?
Parker: Bluberries! I'm washing my hands. And I used a lot, so my hands will be extra clean.
[En route to Super Target.]
Parker: Mom, if we were billionaires, we could buy everything at the mall.
Me: Yes, but we wouldn't do that, because we don't need that much stuff, and we would have to find a place to put all of it. So if we were billionaires, we would just buy what we need and give a bunch of money to others.
Parker: Charities, Mom. You call them charities. And that's a good idea, Mom. The charities could give our money to people, and the people could use the money to buy things that they don't have and want - like Six Flags passes. And they could ride better attractions than they could afford to ride on their own.
[At Super Target, contemplating various allowance-wasting options on the toy aisle.]
Parker: Mom, I can't decide what to buy. There are TOO MANY CHOICES. You will need to pick for me, Mom, because this is hurting my brain, psychologically.
[On the ride home.]
Parker: It's fun going to shopping with you, Mom. Thanks for buying me clothes and letting me get Build A Bear stuff and a toy. [The next part was sung - Buddy the Elf style.] "My moooooooom is So. AAAAAAAAAAWESOOOOOOOOME. And I love her. So. Much."
Time - and Build A Bear Bucks - well spent.