It’s Saturday morning. I’ve made it through the line with the fidgety kid. We sit down at the only cafe table left unoccupied, and I hope for just two minutes to savor my tea. I hand my iPhone to my son to keep him seated and occupied. He starts to play PacMan. He lets out a little yell. Not anything excessively, fire drill loud. An older couple, probably in their 60s, keeps glancing at us when he gets excited and yells “Yay!” or “Whoa!”. If the volume gets louder during play, they make sure to give me a dirty look.
It’s the middle of the mall people. On a Saturday. Give me a break. I’m not apologizing. I’m not moving. If you don’t like it, you can leave. I look back at them but without expression of any kind. They give up. When I am good and done with my tea, we get up and leave.
We walk into Williams Sonoma, because I like to live dangerously. He picks up one of those old fashioned egg beaters and cranks the handle. It was located on the bottom shelf of a number of kitchen gadgets stuck in wooden bins along the wall. Then he stares at the beaters and touches them with one hand. I’m nervous he will put one or more fingers in between the beaters and pull back a bloody stump. I take it away.
We walk a little further and he sees some brightly colored cookie cutters, designed like Marvel Comics. They have buttons to push to punch out the cookie dough. The display is conveniently located right next to the fine crystal and glassware – I kid you not. My son is going wild on the buttons for the cookie cutters, smashing them with his hand. They are set out on display on a Silpat and cookie sheet. I imagine him flipping one in the air and it landing like a bowling ball hitting the glasses nearby. I steer him away again and decide it’s time to leave.
Next, we walk into Pottery Barn because I see ornaments in the window and, like a deer in the headlights, I’m drawn to the shiny displays. As soon as we walk through the door, he heads straight to a table filled with breakable candle holders. I steer him away from that. He next heads directly to a dining table display, set for the holidays with lots of wine glasses. He leans forward. I pull him back. We leave.
Well, let’s try Pottery Barn for kids. That has to be fairly childproof, right? He heads straight to a display of children’s luggage. The suitcases have buttons that allow the handles to extend and retract. As displayed, they are on a shelf, just about my son’s height. He lifts the handle, retracts, reaches for the next suitcase behind and does the same only he now has his arm stuck through the hole he created in extending the first one. He cannot get the second one to extend, so we are headed for meltdown. I get him out of his predicament and we leave the mall altogether.
I keep thinking that someday, I’ll get time to shop with him with me someday, peacefully. Even if it’s only window shopping. I must need to learn appreciation for peace, since I wish for it so often and it is always outside my grasp.
Eventually, we make our way to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription for him. As I talk to the pharmacist, my son is circling, running back and forth the length of the counter, trying to reach around and run the cash register and touching nearly everything around him. Each instance yields discussion by me to stop. Each instance I place him next to me and, no sooner is he there, than he wanders away and starts up again. He breaks a pen attached to a coil and the counter. A woman who is getting her own prescription informs me my son has broken the pen. I apologize to the pharmacist who is very kind and tells me not to worry.
I have discovered, with my son’s new found awareness of his surroundings, his curiosity has increased. It’s like he is now in his terrible two’s at age five. Of course, I’m grateful for his interest, awareness and energy for all things. It’s just hard to keep up, keep my patience, and discipline him in public settings.
I guess I’ll just have to find a boring spot, wherever we happen to be, in which to administer a public time out, but I have not yet done this yet. It must be time to learn. And maybe that will be the key to finding my little bit of peace.