Ah, the mall.
It’s one of my kids’ favorite places.
Unless they go with their dad.
I’ve been married to him for nearly 20 years. I know better than to fall for his cheery, “Hey, everybody! Let’s go to the mall!”
That’s an invitation... to hell.
The backstory: I love to shop. Pretty much any time, any where (exception: home improvement stores. Yawn). But, I will not shop with my husband. It’s such an incredibly painful experience. He’s cripplingly indecisive, especially when it comes to shoe shopping. I have diagnosed him with inshoecurity. You know how the optometrist flips back and forth between the two settings on the giant pair of glasses asking you which is better, 1 or 2? 1 or 2? 1 or 2? Yeah, that is shopping with him. But instead of a half-hour eye appointment, this goes on for days.
But my kids apparently forgot all about their last trip with him. Or, they decided to risk it on the off chance they might weasel stuff — like mall pretzels and Jamba Juices — out of him.
“Really, Mom? You don’t want to go?” they asked, as I waved good-bye with one hand, vacuum nozzle in the other.
“Nope. I’m going to vacuum and mop and clean the toilets.”
And if you think any of that made them feel guilty, you don’t know them.
As I ran the Shark steam mop over vast swaths of sticky floor, my iPhone pinged. Text. It was No. 1, the only one armed with a cell.
No. 3 did not look like he was having the time of his young life.
By this point, I’d made it to the toilet-scrubbing portion of my Saturday afternoon.
I was never so happy to be elbow-deep in a toilet bowl.
By the time they came home two hours later, the house would have passed a health inspection, that is, if the inspector was fairly nearsighted.
“Sooooo. How was the mall?” I asked, knowing the answer.
“It’s not exactly a thrillfest at Banana Republic,” No. 3 sighed.
Later, as my husband inspected his shopping bags and reconsidered two out of three purchases, I alerted the kids that there would be returns.
“You made us spend 30 minutes while you were buying shoes and now you’re taking them back?” No. 3 asked incredulously. “Great, Dad.”
No one offered to accompany him on the return trip.
Still, things could have been worse. He could have dragged them through Total Whine, er, Wine. Which he actually did once. Now that trip they remember so well it’ll come up in future therapy sessions. Guaranteed.
Contact Kristen Cook at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-4194. Heard around the house: No. 3, picking out his outfit for picture day at school: “I don’t normally lean toward plaid, but… I like this shirt.”