This morning we loaded up the kids and trekked over to the Bellevue Square Mall, which is an upscale shopping mecca smelling faintly of complicated espresso orders and fifty-dollar bills. It’s not the usual sort of place I think of when it comes to kid-friendly activities, but the weather was dour and our options were limited. We made our way to something called the “Kid’s Cove”, which was essentially one large walled-in section of floor filled with soft rubbery shapes for kids to play on. Parents sat around the perimeter of the Cove, while its innards teemed with toddlers. There were maybe fifty kids in there just galloping around, and Riley was instantly sucked in, as though he’d been grabbed up by a tidal current. We sat there on the sidelines, like all the other parents, watching Riley bob to the surface now and then and wave at us. Dylan perched on my lap, softly clapping his hands and making his contented/interested noises: “Beh! Meh. Bmmm.”

We did that for a while, stroller’d over to World Wrapps for some lunch, then headed home with two tired, mostly happy kids. As far as excursions go it wasn’t exactly what you might call adventurous, or even very interesting, but if you would have suggested that location to me a few months ago I would have laughed myself sick. “A toddler and a baby, in that snooty mall?” I’d have said, slapping my knee in a jolly manner. “SMOKE ANOTHER ONE.”

I don’t know why it’s taken so long for me to get comfortable with taking both kids out and about — maybe it’s that Dylan is a little more predictable, a little less likely to randomly spray an entire semi-digested bottle of milk down my shirt. Maybe it’s that Riley is officially old enough to be hissed at, Mommy-Dearest-style, if his behavior strays into the unacceptable zone, and these days he actually responds to Stern Admonishments and Dire Threats instead of fishflopping on the ground screaming. Maybe I’m just realizing that cabin fever, if left unattended for too long, results in eye-glaze, clock-watching, and way too many goddamned episodes of Curious George.

It’s funny, I never would have thought that a morning spent sitting at a mall and NOT SHOPPING would be any kind of fun, but it’s all about finding things to do with the kids now. Sometimes I rail against this fact in my head, I get frustrated and wish I could just go do what I want for once, and sometimes I find myself sitting in some dorky Kid’s Cove, thinking, you know, this is really nice.


19 Responses to “Retail therapy”

  1. Jennifer Longstaff on November 2nd, 2008 12:37 am

    Sounds like you’ve found a bit of mental peace. Good for you!

    …. hoping there will be a Halloween Review blog entry coming up maybe… did everyone do OK at the JB-workplace trick-or-treat fest?

  2. NancyJak on November 2nd, 2008 6:44 am

    You KNOW the day will come all too soon when you’re down to having one by your side because the other doesn’t want anything to do with you…and then shortly after that the other will feel the same!
    So just keep a list if you have to of all those things you’d really like to do by yourself and when the day comes be glad that you have independent kids with lives of there own and do everything (with your without JB!) that you put aside to spend with your boys!

  3. Half Assed Kitchen on November 2nd, 2008 7:12 am

    Oh, totally. SO totally! My husband took the kids to the zoo before it started raining too hard. He likes overcast days there because it’s not so freaking crowded. Now I’m trying to figure out how the hell to entertain them TODAY.

  4. K on November 2nd, 2008 7:25 am

    The mall near us has a weird indoor play area that has these gigantic pieces of plastic breakfast food as toys. That’s right, huge pieces of pancakes, bacon and eggs that kids climb and snot all over.

    I have always made fun of the “bacon and eggs,” but last winter I discovered it actually was a pretty decent place to go burn off some of that three-year-old energy without standing in 25 degree weather.

    It’s amazing to me how parenthood makes me re-evaluate so many of the things I thought previously to be totally stupid, like minivans and plastic fruit playgrounds.

  5. ashley on November 2nd, 2008 7:46 am

    Those places have saved me before too… The only downside is that the germ count is really, really, really high what with all the slobbery, boogery kids running around in them.

  6. Shawna on November 2nd, 2008 7:51 am

    I dread the coming of the Canadian winter and the degree of difficulty it adds to finding good activities with the kids (one baby, one toddler). Heck, even venturing out seem exponentially more difficult when you factor in all the winter gear required just to get between buildings and the car. It’ll be back to the mall with us more often again.

    Phooey. Bubbles and chalk in the driveway was sooooo much easier.

  7. Maria Mora on November 2nd, 2008 8:33 am

    George and I took the Chipmunk to the dinky one in our mall last Saturday. I sat in a sunbeam and watched him goof around. It was surprisingly nice.

    Of course now he’s laying on the floor bellowing at me that “I WANT GUIDO MOVE THAT COUCH MOVE IT” without understanding that there’s no way in hell his 38.5 week pregnant mama is going to get on the floor to get the goddamned car he shoved under the couch.

    Still, this is fun.

  8. SleepyNita on November 2nd, 2008 9:12 am

    Even though I am in Canada, I have to say I love THAT mall! Whenever I head to Seattle I hit the mall since almost every store I NEED to shop at is there.

    I hear you on the kid activities though – with a Canadian winter looming I already have my list of “shit to do when cabin fever hits” complete with swimming pool times, indoor playground locations and even ::gasp:: where the nearest cleanest McDonald’s playland is.

  9. amy a. on November 2nd, 2008 9:16 am

    It is nice, isn’t it?

    My kids are getting older, but the littler ones still look longingly at the play places and go to measure themselves against the height limit, already knowing that they don’t qualify anymore.

    Your kids will remember these days as good ones, too. It’s good to know that even the seemingly boring stuff has the potential to make good family memories.

  10. Hotch Potchery on November 2nd, 2008 9:29 am

    When our kids were 4 and 5, Mr. P and I were both in college, so money was very tight. We also live in a playground sparce area. The McDonald’s playland was our mecca on Saturday afternoons, rain or shine. I could sit and drink gallons of Diet Coke and study, and the kids could play and play and play. Sometimes I miss those “simpler” days.

  11. Abby on November 2nd, 2008 9:45 am

    After my first was born, an acquaintence mentioned that when her daughter was little, she made a point of going outside with her once a day, even if it was only a fifteen minute stroll around the yard in sub-freezing weather that required 30 minutes of bundling and unbundling to accomplish. Her theory: it was a healthy thing to do. I followed her example, because it turned out to be a *mentally* healthy thing to do as well. We lived in the country at the time (can you spell i-s-o-l-a-t-i-o-n?) and at least walked down to the mailbox everyday. A little fresh air and the opportunity to focus one’s eyes on something more than 12 feet away does wonders.

  12. Alyson on November 2nd, 2008 10:29 am

    Cherish the days when the kids are portable and fairly plyable and not verbal enough to ask for everything in sight. I’ll trade your two boys for my 11-year old at B-Square anytime. Top Foods with the 11 year-old is going to be the death of me yet!

  13. Kristi on November 2nd, 2008 11:30 am

    That is the best, damn description of the Bellevue Square Mall that I’ve ever read! That should be on their website!!! Seriously, you need to contact them about writing some current copy!

  14. Shannon on November 2nd, 2008 11:38 am

    I haven’t been in Bellevue Square Mall for many years now, but I am guessing that the old spot for kids to play, that pit down on the first floor across from where Eddie Bauer used to be, is gone. How time flies. . .

    I told a coworker, who was despairing about places to take her young kids, about your trips to Kelsey Creek Farm and she was very grateful for the suggestion. So there ya go and thanks by proxy!

  15. Dianna on November 2nd, 2008 12:39 pm

    Gosh, I remember playing in that place when I was little. Crazy how time flies by. There used to be a McDonald’s right across that my aunt would take me to for lunch after playing. Glad you were able to get out of the house though!

  16. Joanne on November 2nd, 2008 1:14 pm

    I think the secret to happiness, especially as a parent but really for everyone, is to just continue to lower and lower and lower your expectations. That’s what mostly gets me, every time.

  17. Karen on November 2nd, 2008 9:38 pm

    One of my secrets on cold winter days (we would get kicked out of the apartment so my husband could study) was Home Depot! They used to have kiddy workshops making birdhouses or planters that provided at least an hour of entertainment, then we would wander the aisles, check out all the kitchens, “ikea-test” the cabinetry, the kiddy wallpaper, and of course end up with a hot dog. Now I’m trying to entertain a 13 year old. But at least hubby has graduated!

  18. Carrot Cake on November 3rd, 2008 9:00 am

    Cabin Fever. A long cold Minnesota Winter approaches, we have one car between us, and only one room in our small house is baby-friendly for any extended period of time. Mother Nature is granting us a few last warm afternoons this week, but before long we’ll have days and months on end of snow. MUST stave off Cabin Fever. I think any Mall or indoor playground (McD’s?) will be my best friend until late next Spring. Hang in there and I will too!

  19. Bethiclaus on November 4th, 2008 12:55 pm

    I was super weirded out the first time I went to a mall play area with a playgroup (out here the Winter and Summer are not appropriate for outdoor play). But it’s not nearly as weird as I thought it was in the beginning. It really is kind of nice.

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