A Rant about Malls, Indoor Playgrounds, & Older Kids

So I’m in love with the mall for a different reason than when I was a teenager. Thanks to my friend L.G. for cluing me into the indoor play areas ta the mall. This is a good alternative for cold weather. But I am grouchy about guardians of older kids who are not cautious and considerate of the younger smaller kids.

Today I discovered that a good time to go to the mall with your toddler is 30 minutes or so before the stores open. N has been sick but today must have had cabin fever because he kept reaching for the door knobs and crying. I took that as a sign that he needed to get out (without a full command of language I’m still in the phase of guessing what my son wants or needs, it’s often funny for us and sometimes frustrating). So we headed to the mall. I figured a little bit of running around at the indoor play area would be good. And then we could walk around the mall (he likes to push his own stroller), eat some rice (his favorite food) and come back home. (For the germ-a-phobes reading: I took lots of sanitizer and tissue to counter N’s runny nose and dirty hands…truth be told, I also had cabin fever after ALL day Saturday inside doing nebulizer treatments and blowing his nose!)

Parent tip: The indoor play area at the mall is not so crowded before the stores open; in fact there were only 2 other kids my son’s size and age when we arrived.

But then the mall opened and more children poured in. In my circle of friends, we “scold” each other’s kids if need be. Culturally and generationally I would also “scold” or “correct” a stranger’s child.  I grew up in a time when anyone (family, friend, neighbor, or stranger) could set you straight if you were not behaving or if you were engaging in less than appropriate behavior.  I’m keenly aware that this practice is not so common now and that there are some parents who might be offended by you doing so with their child and may even become angry with you.  It’s a hot topic, here’s an older blog about this issue). So I’m cautious about speaking to a stranger’s child.  But if my child is involved, then I’m speaking up.  The older children at the indoor playground were running around without regard to the younger and smaller kids, often bumping them or stepping on them.  I waited for the parents of two particular older boys (ages 7 and 9 maybe) to tell their kids to be more careful of the younger kids, but nothing happened.  So when one of the older boys bumped my son and he fell I asked the older boy to please be more careful.  He looked me up and down and rolled his eyes and ran away. Rude, of course, I thought.  I looked for his guardians, who were his grandparents and who when I looked their way seemed to be intensely engaged in a conversation and did not make eye contact with me. I let it go.  Another mom of a younger smaller child smiled at me and mouthed “good for you.”  “Good for me” o.k. and if more parents spoke up to correct rude or rough kids then it wouldn’t be such a big deal to do so.

I noticed that the moms of the younger children kept telling their kids “Say ‘excuse me'” or “Honey, you have to share.” Even though our kids were still too young to understand all of that. The older kids were just let loose without any supervision or correction for unruly behavior.  Not cool.  Maybe it is because parents of younger children are more cautious due to the child’s size and uncertainty of new things and activities.  But I think that in general all adults should make kids of all ages and sizes aware of each other’s space and give lessons on how to play with others.  If not, I’m right there to offer my two cents worth! Because as the cliche saying goes “It takes a village to raise a child.”

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