I must confess that I don't like shopping. I usually have a list or have in mind what I want to get when I go to the store, get it and get out. There are a few stores that I will go to with something in mind and then take a spin through the rest of the store, but those are few and far between. (Target and Kohl's, I love you!)
But shopping for the sake of shopping? Eeek! No thanks!
In fact, for the last two years, Elizabeth has asked me if we are going to 'go to' Black Friday. Is she insane? Does my own child really not know me at all??? That sounds like the most horrible idea ever! Please! Let me stay holed up in my house on that famous day after Thanksgiving and eat left over turkey instead! (Or chicken, as the case may be, but that's another story...)
Anyway, I have a friend who has a little girl who is just about Gabriel's age, and another one who has a girl Gabriel's age and one Jo's age and the 3 of us with our 6 children (Elizabeth usually sits this one out) like to get together once a week or so at a park or the library or somewhere to hang out, let the kids play and catch up.
Well, the Thursday before Christmas we were due to get together to do something, but it was just too cold to take the kids outside, and I wanted to do something a little more aggressive than just go to the library, so I had the bright idea to take the kids and their friends to Tyson's Corner. One of the ladies has never been to Tysons since she just moved here a few months ago, so she was game, but the other one was out of town.
So, we swung by, picked up Maria and Emma and headed up the highway.
All was well, and we laid out our plans:
Take a walk through the mall, take a peek at Santa (even though neither of us 'do' the Santa thing with our kids), go to the food court, eat the lunch we brought with us and then let the kids play in the play place that is right by the food court.
On paper, it's a wonderful idea.
We got to the mall pretty early, so it wasn't crowded at all, and we found a place to park easily, and braved the cold biting wind and got to the door. We carefully made note of the entrance that we were going in and stepped into the mall.
I have not been in a mall in years. This means that neither Jo nor Gabriel have ever really been in a mall at all. Emma was an old hat at the whole experience because she goes shopping with her mom frequently, so she calmly took it all in and trotted obediently beside her mother.
Jo and Gabriel, however, were a completely different story. Eyes wide they turned in amazement to take it all in, then giggling giddily, they pranced ahead of us down the main corridor. Jesse sat happily in the cocoon of his side of the double stroller peeking out at the festive wonders around us.
And all was well.
Until we stopped to look at the map to figure out how to get to the food court.
Tysons is huge. Not just big, but HUGE. We were totally turned around and we all gathered around the map to figure it all out. Then, as a group, we turned and headed in the right direction. Until I counted heads and said the dreaded words:
For Elizabeth, panic immediately set in. She was pushing the stroller at that point, and as I walked up one side of the little stands they have in the middle of the passage ways, she ran up and down the other side pushing Jesse in the stroller calling out "Gabriel! Gabriel!" in a frantic voice.
I knew that he could not have gone far, but the question was, in which direction did he choose to go? There were just so many different ways for a 2 year old to decide to turn!
Then I heard from the other end, 'Gabriel! Why are you in Bloomingdales?' As if he read the sign and decided to check out the merchandise in there.
Some lady happened to be there and saw my little man wandering alone at the same time that Elizabeth did and asked if someone was missing a little boy. Elizabeth says, 'He's mine' and Gabriel said, 'I'm just looking for my mom.'
Poor lady! Looking at Elizabeth pushing the double stroller with an infant in it and swooping in to pick up 'her' toddler in the middle of a school day...what she must have thought! Ha! Well, whatever.
Anyway, it all turned out all right in the end, and all in all, it was very fun although I am not sure that Maria will want to go out in public with us again....
But there is something else that I realized about shopping:
I have been going about it all wrong!
When I shop, as I have stated before, I go to buy what I need and get out. But I am missing the whole idea behind shopping! As we walked through the mall, I noticed that each store was set up independently. They all had their own music, their own design even down to the floor! You know, the posh jewelry store has the plush carpet, another store has hardwood floors...it's all thought out and very well designed. It is made to take us, as consumers, to another place...a place where we are what they want us to be and therefore more willing to part with our money. The time, effort and money put into making it what it is was quite impressive.
However, although I was duly impressed and somewhat moved by the marketing strategies, we parted with nothing more than Gabriel, and that was even for just a little while.
I was also quite impressed with us, too. We made it back to the car without a hitch.
It was funny, though, how when we got the the car, Maria and Emma got in and were ready to go in about 30 seconds flat. I however, had to buckle Jo and Gabriel, change Jesse, strap him into his seat then fasten that into the car, then unload the lunch stuff for 5 people out from under the stroller, fold the stroller and maneuver it into the boot of the car and make my way to my seat. I am very quick at this routine, but sometimes I just think: ahhhh, but to have but one child! But then I realize: which one would I choose? So instead, I look with love at the 4 contentedly drowsy faces that line my rear view mirror and don't even say one word of apology to Maria for how long it has taken me to load up.
I just smile and ask her,
Are you ready?