Let’s Go To The Mall

I took the kids to the mall last night. It was an accident. Beauty wanted to meet some friends there and Sharkboy needed a haircut and I needed to pick some things up on that side of town, so, I temporarily lost my sensibility and got excited about a trip to the mall. The Barkeep and I take the boys to “our mall” a lot. Our mall is on this side of town and hosts several inexpensive children’s clothing stores, as well as Target, which is where most of my money goes. There are 3 malls within 15 minutes of my house in any direction, but this mall is almost 30 minutes away in the subbiest of suburbs, our old stomping grounds, where their dad still lives and they still go to school. It’s new and big and shiny and it’s where all the cool kids hang out. There are two Abercrombie stores. I think they are designed to suck people in with their giant half naked men posters and perfumed, controlled temperature air but it does not have that effect on me. I actually repel just a little from the doorway. It’s that kind of mall and I’m not that kind of mom.

www.bodybuilding.com

Exactly what item of Abercrombie are these models showing off? The perfumed air? The guy you can get if you wear their jeans?

Plans got rearranged before the boys and I made it to that side of town and somehow I ended up picking Goldy up at her dad’s house and leaving Beauty. We drove by our old neighborhood to pick up diaper pail liners I had bought from a friend online but she wasn’t home yet so the four of us headed to the mall to get Sharkboy a haircut and shop for things I don’t need. Even though I attempted to leave immediately after work at 5:30 it was 6:45 by the time we actually walked into the salon. (Remember, when travelling with rockstars, one can never just walk out the door empty handed.) There was only one person working and she said it would be 30 minutes, around 7:30. I didn’t bother to correct her math. Maybe she lives on bar time.

We shopped at Crazy 8, where Gymboree clothes meet Target prices and rode the big, glass elevator. I managed to avoid the play area by buying a ride on the mechanical fire truck and we walked back into the salon at 7:25, just in time to hear her tell a woman at the counter she could get her in next. I, being naïve and ridiculous, really thought she meant after us, but no, the woman was seated immediately. Again, naïve and ridiculous, I think, “this will be quick, the boys will be fine.”

I know, at least half of you snorted at my silliness or let out an audible, “ha” at that.  My kids are reasonably well behaved in public but even in the best of circumstances most kids do not behave the way most people without kids would like them to. This was not the best of circumstances. The waiting area was tiny and there was already a rather snooty looking, terribly dressed woman with a well dressed, unattractive teenage(?) boy. He may have been in his twenties but I think he was with his mom. It was an odd pair and their behavior was similar. Odd. There were four of us and Little S was in a stroller, at least it was his umbrella stroller, though. I gave him a wonderful book to read, Baby Mix Me A Drink, and he immediately threw it on the floor, starting a fun game with Goldy where she would pick up the book and he would throw it again. Good times. Sharkboy was hanging out under the chairs, which I would normally discourage in an area that small but I honestly just wanted to keep it peaceful as long as possible. Little S threw his book near Mean Boy’s feet and Mean Boy kindly picked it up for him, or so I thought, but instead he gave me a disgusted look and stuck it in our diaper bag, thus beginning our fued. I get it, not everyone is a fan of “Drop The Book” but it wasn’t hurting anyone and it was keeping the baby quiet and happy. Why be a fun hater?

I’m not making this up.

I wish I could have recorded the tongue lashing that baby gave him. He furrowed his little brow and let loose with an angry string of babble that any sailor would be proud of. High five, Little S. Goldy and I both laughed inappropriately and she offered to take him for a walk around the mall while we waited. Sharkboy’s behavior deteriorated quickly after that and he mostly laid on the floor saying it was cold or stood next to a rack of things I told him not to touch, just barely not touching it. Mean Pair sighed a lot and acted irritated but I could see that Snooty Mom was mildly amused.

I know what you’re thinking. We should have left, and we should have. But you should also know two important things about me. I can be extremely lazy and highly vindictive. I was angry that Hairdresser let someone go ahead of us and I was pleased that our presence rattled her and I didn’t mind the side effect of making the Mean Pair uncomfortable. Also, there was nowhere else in the mall I was willing to pay for a 2 year old’s haircut and we were there and he had clean hair, which only lasts so long with a little boy who loves the sandbox. So, we waited.

Hairdresser did a great job on Sharkboy’s hair but she could not get him to cooperate. He would not look anywhere she told him to look, which is odd because he usually loves hair cuts and does what he is asked, but it had been a long night. I got him to cooperate by holding a hand mirror where she wanted him to look. This is why she cuts hair and I watch kids. There’s nothing wrong with that. I still tipped her.

“I’m so ready to go home.” I know you know exactly what I mean. Goal, accomplished. Feet, ache. Mood, shot. But I had this idea of a night at the mall with my kids, ya know, and it involved the play place and a pretzel and lemonade and good times, maybe even some new shoes. Sharkboy found the play place with his sense of hearing, because in this kind of mall there are only two noise centers, the play place for preschoolers and the food court, where the teenagers hang out. These teenagers are not the mallrats of our generation, though. If your children are still young you may not have noticed this. The kids hanging out at the mall now actually shop there. They wear Hollister and jewelry I can’t afford. Even in the mall in our own neighborhood the kids can outspend me. Where are they getting this money?

I didn’t expect the play place to be too crowded on a Monday at 8pm, especially since it’s huge, but it was surprisingly chaotic still. Little S was satisfied crawling in and out of log tunnels like he was doing laps and Sharkboy just wanted to climb so they were mostly safe from the inevitable game of murder-death-kill-tag being played by unattended kids, many much too big to be in there. There were at least 20 kids, two other parents and one grandma that was sound asleep. This is always the situation in mall play places unless you are able to go during the day. (I desperately miss being mobile during the day.) During the day there are usually tons of adorable toddlers and preschool kids with a rational amount of parents and plenty of awkward encounters when one kid hits another or knocks a baby over. Parents gasp and feel terrible, other parents brush it off. Kids, ya know. This is not like that. These are unsupervised, unruly kids. It’s a play place, though, you’re going to have that. I don’t worry much about Sharkboy, if he gets knocked down he just gets back up again and if kids try to bully him… it’s the only time I’m pleased with his self defense skills. Go ahead, back my kid into a corner, I dare you. We don’t call him Sharkboy for nothin’. Goldy and I switched on and off following the boys this way and that, attempting to keep them alive. It’s like a life size video game.

Buried With Children

I stole this photo from a cute blog about making friends at the play area. She is nicer than me. http://www.buriedwithchildren.com/how-to-make-friends-at-the-mall-play-area/

Then I saw Goldy talking to an old friend and overheard bits and pieces of her conversation. By old friend maybe I mean frienemy, I can’t be sure. She’s a girl I remember from junior high because her mother was unable to drive and I was more than happy to give her rides home, rides to hang out, rides wherever and she thanked me by telling me my car was a piece of junk. Not in those exact words, hers were actually worse. She said, “this reminds me of those cars that you see squeaking and bumping down the street to a stop sign and wonder if the owner is embarrassed.” It wasn’t the first time she had a made a remark but it was the last. I offered to let her out if she was uncomfortable being seen in my car and let her know that generally a simple “thank you” was all that was required when given a ride. That was junior high, though, most girls are a little snotty in junior high. Last night I heard Goldy telling her about the boys, she pointed out her brothers and you could see she was having fun playing with them. (And thank goodness for that because I needed the help.) They talked a few more minutes and then she was gone. Goldy rolled her eyes at me and shook her head. Apparantly after she told her what she was doing in the play place her friend sneered and said, “I can only imagine how much bacteria and germs and stuff are in there so I’m going to go now.” Still a snot. And her butt is getting big, so there’s that.

Why are people such jerks to each other? How hard is it to just be nice? I think many unpleasant things throughout the day and generally just bite my tongue. Like, “Wow, your butt has really gotten big since the last time I saw you.” I just hold that in. It’s bad karma to put that much negativity into the universe. Half a dozen people made me angry yesterday and I managed to swallow down my mean thoughts with a delicious buttery pretzel while laughing and playing with my kids. I wash it all down with that perfect pretzel stand lemonade and seriously, how can you not be happy when you’re drinking that stuff?

I guess that would make the moral of this story “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade” but I’m not into clichés so let’s go throw them at things and pretend it’s Big Butt, The Hairdresser and Mean Pair.

Then we’ll make margaritas.

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It’s Not A Secret

Yesterday I had to unload the dishwasher myself. That is a terrible start to any story so let’s add a drink, we’ll pretend it was a margarita since it was Cinco De Mayo, but it was actually a grape flavored Bacardi pre-mixed can of heartburn. Anyway, I was unloading the dishwasher, which is not my chore, and I noticed I was doing all the things I usually complain about. I put all the sippy cup lids in a basket with the annoying stopper things unattached and mixed the toddler utensils in with the regular utensils and ignored other small details I should have been fixing as I unloaded.

If this is the only blog of mine you ever read you will leave this page thinking I am a control freak nitpicker. This is not the case. In reality I am so laid back about cleaning you could call it reclined. I do want my house to be tidy and sanitary but I’m not trying to impress anyone or get our picture in Better Homes and Gardens. I just don’t want to end up on an episode of Hoarders, either. I live in a small house with 6 people and 3 cats. Some order needs to be maintained to keep your sanity.

So, back to the dishes, I noticed I was being sloppy and blaming everyone else. I shouldn’t have been unloading the dishwasher, that is my 13 year old daughter’s job. Everyone hates loading the dshwasher. It is the least desired chore in the house. My daughters would rather change the cat litter and clean the bath tub than load dishes. I could make them anyway. I make them do a lot of things they don’t like, claiming it is to prepare them for the real world, when usually it’s just because I don’t like it, either. I don’t make them load the dishwasher, though, because someday they will have families of their own and because they have female anatomy, they, too, will most likely have to do everything they hate, like touching other people’s wet food scraps because no one bothers to scrape and rinse their plate. They have years of muttering under the breath in their future, why make them start now.

The situation reminded me of a popular self help movement from a few years back that I did not take part in because if I spend money on self help it’s going to be a gym membership or a massage. I did mean to check the book out from the library after the hype died down simply because I like knowing what all the hype is about. I forgot. I did hear bits and pieces from the innerwebs and television and to my understanding the basic idea is that positive thinking will make you happy (duh) and if you surround yourself with successful people, you will become successful. Now, that might sound hokey, but in a past life I worked outside the home and I remember clearly the transition between workspaces at one job. I had become complacent and comfortable just getting by. I was the best at what I did in one arena, not because I was truly the best, but because everyone else was lazy. I moved to another arena with more motivated co-workers and discovered I was the lazy one. I had to buckle down and work harder to keep up and it made me better at my job.

If I apply that same thinking to my home full of infants, toddlers, teenagers and a man that is rarely home… I am in trouble. If I am setting the standard for this household I seriously need to buckle down. It’s easy to put a dish away with lettuce stuck to it and let the next hungry person re-wash it by hand because I know that is exactly what everyone else in the house would do. Don’t judge me. Lettuce is my nemesis. It’s easy to just shove the garbage down a little deeper and keep piling more in because I am still doing more than  everyone else. They just throw their garbage on the top of the obviously full can without bothering to notice if it stayed in or rolled off so by the time I go to take it out at night it resembles the trash heap from Fraggle Rock. If I didn’t have to take it out every night it may even start talking to us.

I make a lot of excuses, my favorite being that there are 6 people in this house. SIX! One of them can’t even walk but trust me, the boy makes a mess. I may be able to fool a lot of people with that excuse, but not myself. I grew up in a house with 6 people and I don’t remember ever ever ever thinking the floor felt crunchy. We never ran out of toothpaste or Tylenol or anything important. My mom stayed at home until I was in school and then she worked outside the home and somehow we never ran out of toilet paper. I remember her reading a lot but the house was always clean. My house is a mess and I still can’t find time to read without staying up until midnight.

According to this self help movemenet, as I understand it, I clearly need to move back in with my mother. (They live a few blocks away and I’m pretty sure I just heard the sound of the drill as she boarded up the doors and windows.) Or maybe I just need to suck it up and start setting a higher standard for my household instead of bitching that it’s not my job to unload the dishwasher. That really is what it boils down to. It’s not a secret, it’s actually quite simple. You have to do your personal best regardless of what the people around you are doing. You can surround yourself with successful people or you can choose to set the standard.

That being said, we are out of toilet paper. Time to set the standard.