In Our Current World, A Trip To The Mall Is Big Entertainment


In celebration of the kids’ N95 masks having arrived, my daughter took them to the mall, as promised. I, of course, invited myself along.

You cannot imagine what a big deal a trip to the mall has become. We used to pop in just to wander around and maybe have an ice cream and now — geez. I admit our family has gotten a bit paranoid with this virus thing constantly re-inventing itself, but really, how safe is anyone? Plus, a promise is a promise.

To avoid the crowds, we got there at 10:30 a.m. and promptly had lunch. The kids were beside themselves with joy. They weren’t eating food from a sack that had been thrown through the car window; they were eating were at a table! In a food court! Tess (age 7) was particularly excited.

I sort of expected it. When Tess was 3, I had taken both kids to the mall to play on the soft sculptures. The moment we walked through the door, Tess exclaimed, “This is the mall?! I love the mall!” and danced her way along the promenade, oohing and ahhing at every store window, admiring every handrail and light fixture. She really did love every aspect of what we all now refer to as “The Mall I Love The Mall.”

And she’s heavily into fashion. Her mother and I don’t understand this. Jen and I are both tomboys, so “fashion” is a mystery to us. But one’s offspring do find their own niches, and the niches they prefer seem to be those that are not overcrowded by their parents being in there, too. So, where Jen and I “get dressed,” Tess “selects an outfit” with “footwear” and “accessories” and then changes it — several times a day.

Even her brother has an innate fashion sense. They’re trendsetters at their school. I didn’t understand what a trend was until I was about 35. I mean, I have gotten all decked out for parties, and people have gasped when I entered the room, but that’s just because they didn’t know it was only me. (They come to their senses when I open my mouth.)

So we were at “The Mall I Love The Mall” and I let it drop that, after lunch, I would buy each of them a new outfit.

OMG. I thought Tess was going to have a heart attack. She immediately abandoned her lunch, dashed into the nearest store and ran from rack to rack with her arms outstretched, giddy with the prospect of appearing at school in this dress or that. Or that! Or that!!! I have never seen a kid so ramped up over clothing before. It was perplexing yet delightful.

Her brother, age 9, shopped like he was a 30-year-old GQ model with years of experience “in the industry.” He nonchalantly scanned the racks, picked up a jacket and said, “This,” with complete confidence. I insisted he at least try it on, and he obliged, but no need. He looked amazing.

The children insisted on having the tags cut from their selections and wearing them out while my daughter and I trailed behind them like sherpas. The fashionistas danced ahead while Jen and I lugged uneaten lunches, sodas, shopping bags, purses and a cup of pretzel bites — you know, for us.

So the mall trip was a highly successful venture and a reward rightfully earned by kids who wear their masks without complaining, wash their hands way too many times a day and have already had two years of a normal childhood stolen from them. With any luck, they’ll never realize it. God save the mall.