Sunday, October 09, 2005

Mall-eosis on the Escalator

What is it about small children and shopping malls? Is it the lights and the color? Maybe it’s the bustle of people passing by. It could be the wide open spaces or the visual over-stimulation. Whatever it is, be prepared if you take a toddler to a mall, because shopping malls affect small children like no other place on the planet. I’ve decided it’s an illness that I’ll call mall-eosis. Stay with me as I relate the case of Emily.

Emily is a lovely young lady who likes dresses, dolls, and dining out. The ribbon on her teddy bear was never once in disrepair. Her hair is always perfectly combed. She is smart and has a sense of humor. If at this time you asked her age, she was would say four and you’d believe her, even though she was really only 3 and ¾.

Emily is her mother’s pride and her father’s joy. She has does their bidding cheerfully to a point that is nearly Stephen King eerie. Despite these incredible traits, I can say with certainty she does exist. I know her father, Steve.

Emily and her dad went to a shopping mall a few years ago. The errand they were on required a short trip to a store on the fourth level. They headed straight to the escalator—a two-story moving stairway with walls about half-way up the ride. According to Steve the escalator had one speed—slow, so slow you wish you’d die. But his impression of the speed might have been colored by the sad events that soon transpired.

You see that’s when mall-eois struck the delightful child. One foot upon the escalator and she took her father for a ride. Emily was Evily— every kind of nuisance with loud, look-at-me behavior—the mall kid that puts every parent in a total no-win position. Steve knew he was in a bind. There was no way out. She was noisy, nosy, and into other people’s stuff.

Her father spoke to her in his firmest father voice, “Emily, stand still. Put your dress down. Leave the man alone. Put your shoe on. Hold my hand now. No we can’t get off. Put your dress down. Let go the man's pants. Stop pounding on the rail.”

It’s the parent's nightmare. You can’t raise your voice, or you’re seen as an abuser, nor can you ignore the obnoxious child for then you're ruining society. By the way, it doesn’t have to be your kid, everyone assumes it is.

The man who was ahead of them kept turning to share his dirty looks. “What did he think?” Steve said when he told the story. “That up to then I was enjoying it?”

He went on “It seemed to take an hour up the ride and the idiot guy turned and looked too many times. Meanwhile, Emily had decided that this was a game. There was no solution until we got off the escalator. So kept my cool and bided my time, until the guy turned and gave another dirty look." Steve took a breath and smiled.

"I'd had enough of his looks by then. So I said to him, ‘You turn around one more time and SHE’S YOURS.’ That took care of him. Actually now that I think of it, Emily got quiet too.”

So to anyone who has a toddler and a shopping mall looming in the future know that even trained professionals avoid it when they can.

My experienced parental advice? Get someone else to do it.

—me strauss Letting me be


edgarblythe said...

I raised four, and it happens just like that every time. You and your friend nailed it perfectly.

ME Strauss said...

HI Edgar,
Nice to see you. Yeah I know exactly what you mean. Kids and malls are a bad comination and everyone things the parents are the problem.

Bluesky_Liz said...

My mum had good control of things. She would say, "if you don't behave yourself, you are going to get it when we get home." And she meant it. Then she would give me a look.

At the mall, if I do something that displeases her, she would give me that look.

At least your friend's kid isn't running around by herself up and down that escalator. There are parents who totally let their kids make a pest of themselves in public.

ME Strauss said...

Hi Liz,
I know that look of your mom's. Mine had one too. I think that's that same look that all husbands are acared of. :)

Every 3-year-old has his or her moments. I'm sure I had mine and I know my son did. But you're right there are some people who let their kids run all over. I just try to remember that wwhat I think is one could be the other.

Anyway, I thought my friend's answer at the time was a great one.


dog1net said...


I do so love these personal narratives you write on the experience of parenting. I think in many ways the mall and food centers have replaced the proverbial "candy store." What used to be for parents a minor nuisance that was expected of their child but easily contained now gets played out on a much larger stage. A child out of sorts now is the cacophonous voice singing loudly from the opera. Sometimes it can be obnoxious as hell. I remember when my son was three years old. He wanted a cereal that was high in sugar content. I suggested Kics, but instead he persisted on his choice by having a very impressive temper tantrum. I turned and walked to the end of the aisle, and waited behind the endcap. After about five minutes he gave up with his wailing, and was happy with the Kics. Our shopping trips, mall or otherwise after that were much more pleasent. And so there you have it, me on another tangent because of the wonderful way your writing makes me reflect back on my experiences.

ME Strauss said...

I think the highest compliment you can pay me is to say that what I write gives you back your memories, especially those of your son.

thank you for that.

Janus said...

My father just had to hint at going to the car to discuss things and I normally piped down fast. My Dad was not cruel and I only remember getting spanked once, don't remember what I did, but I sure didn't do it ever again.

The only thing I had happen that I could relate with that was embarrassing is my oldest niece when she was about that age. She would just shout out to everyone that she thought was pretty.
"This is my Uncle Janus, and he's not married."

I think my sister put her up to that, but thats ok, I got her back. She didn't get to go back home to her mom until I loaded her with sugar.

Ned said...

Even the least pliable children are always much more mall-eable in the hands of strangers.

ME Strauss said...

Ah Janus,
Sugar, the secret weapon. My brothers kids never ate sugar except for when my brother cam home with nis family for the holiday--then they would let the kids dig in. The wall haven't recovered from being bounced against yet.

ME Strauss said...

Hi Ned,
You make a good point there. They like to show off for company too. So maybe my friend should have given her away then. :)