Adventures in an Urban Mall
I had the privilege of solo parenting the Doodle today. Usually, we do family things together or we alternate who is in charge of keeping an eye on the rambunctious toddler on Saturdays and Sundays.
Today it was different. Otto needed the entire day to get through some pretty hefty work obligations, so the Doodle was in my charge from 10:30 am (post-gymnastics) until bed time. I haven’t spent that much consecutive one-on-one time with her since I was on mat leave.
Frankly when I find out that care of the toddler is delegated to me and her entertainment becomes my sole responsibility for an entire day I’m utterly terrified. It’s a combination of an age and seasonal thing.
We’re slowly cutting back on nursing, so some days it’s all grabbing at me, reaching down my shirt and pleading for nunnas on endless end. She’s been pretty cranky lately as we’re working on that last set of molars and there’s lots of frustration and temper tantrums on top of what we already have as par for the course of a kid who is nearly two. And then, I really struggle with finding indoor things to do, whether that be in the city or in our house.
After we tackled lunch and a long afternoon nap, I packed us up and headed to the mall.
Once we survived the hunt for the elusive holiday season parking spot, we were good to go. The mall had plenty of things to engage me as a consumer – I’m on the hunt for a stocking for the baby that coordinates with the ones we already have – and lots of interesting sights and ample space for a toddler to move.
When you’re shopping with a toddler, anything can happen, and you have to be prepared to take it all in stride.
Incident 1. I had to go to the bathroom, so I rolled the stroller and the Doodle into the biggest stall. The Doodle said she had to pee, and wanting to be respectful of her burgeoning vocalization, and we are on the verge full fledge potty training, I thought I’d let her try out the public restroom. I’ve heard all about kids who were afraid of the loud flushing sound, and I wanted to gauge where we were at.
With pants around her ankles, I hoist her onto the seat. She’s never gone on a non-potty toilet and she’s not about to now. Then I recalled that kids sometimes are more comfortable if you let them stand on the toilet seat. To do this, I have to take off her pants and shoes first.
My small bladder was about to burst, so I took the Doodle off the toilet seat cause it was definitely my turn.
The thing about the Doodle is that she loves doors. It was a momentary lapse in judgement. Because we were in the big stroller/handicapped stall, she quickly got out of arms reach, was at the door, and figures out how to turn the dial. It took less than 3 seconds.
The latch releases, the door flies open, and I fly off the toilet with my pants around my ankles to grab her before she takes off across the bathroom. My hand wraps around her arm, but not before I’ve surprised the entire bathroom. A restroom that happened to be quite full as the mall was packed. I’m a flashing mom.
Incident 2. The Doodle signs that she wants to eat and loudly expresses that she’s hungry. She already ate the snack I had packed, so I take her to get her first booster juice. I figured that a dairy-free smoothie was one of the best mall food options around.
The Doodle loved it; or maybe just the straw. She was enjoying it so much and it completely occupied her for about 30 minutes.
In a flash it was over. She let me know that she was done by throwing the cup onto the ground while in the middle of a store. It’s a styrofoam cup which split open, and sent the drink splashing everywhere. Thankfully no merchandise was covered, only the floor. So I grabbed some toilet paper from a nearby bathroom to clean up the spill and disposed of the leaky cup which left a trail of juice across the floor.
Incident 3. You think that I would have learned my lesson about the Doodle and opening doors earlier, but I didn’t.
The Doodle loves the change room. It has a gigantic mirror and the store was playing the most danceable Christmas music. I’m trying on a few things at a store I love, but really should avoid, cause its way too expensive and I pretty much never leave it empty-handed.
I’m not entirely paying attention. The Doodle is entirely fascinated as there is nothing more entertaining than watching yourself dance in the mirror. It gets even better when mommy dances in the mirror alongside you.
I’m getting a little anxious as I’m trying on all of these great pieces that fit and I do need some new winter stuff. But there’s the sticker shock. And I’m plotting out how I might maximize my investment without giving Otto a heart attack. I’m doing this while still trying on more of my selections, and in mid-clothing change the Doodle makes a break for it, pulls on the lever of the change room door, which opens outward just like the one in the bathroom, and it flies open.
I’m greeted by male and female shoppers who are somewhat amused.
Incident 4. The Doodle is done in her stroller, so I let her out. Her desire for freedom strikes just as we arrive at one of those home goods stores with lots of glass and shiny objects. Usually, she’s happy to push her stroller around. She does and nearly takes out a display and a young man and his girlfriend. He intercepts the stroller before it becomes a very expensive incident.
I decide that I must quickly see if I can locate the Christmas section and scope out my stocking options.
I’m sorting through the stockings, while the Doodle explores what is mostly plastic ornaments. She does tear up a few isles and I tear after her. It’s a bit of a game you see, and she laughs hysterically when I catch her. The object isn’t to run away, as much as it is to be caught.
She makes a tear for it, and it’s towards a whole bunch of ceramic bird houses. I catch her and swing her up on to my hip. It’s definitely time to go.
I turn to leave and the Doodle says, “uh oh. uh oh.” I ask what the issue is. She says, “uh oh,” again followed by, “shoe.” I look down to see her shoe and let her know, yes, that’s her shoe. She says, “shoe,” another time and I look down at her other foot and I’m about to reconfirm when all I see staring up at me is a sock. The Doodle lost a shoe!
In the section of the store that has puked up every Christmas knick knack ever known to humanity. It cluttered and chaotic. Somehow, I have to find a size 8 shoe misplaced at the hands of a mischievous toddler.
So I look. I’m pretty sure that she had both shoes when we got to the store. Actually, I’m confident that we had them both, as she had been walking around freely.
I look up and down the isles. I retrace all of our steps. I ask at the checkout if anyone had turned in a shoe (it has the Doodle’s name in it). I retrace our steps again. All the while I’m loudly talking about how her shoe is lost in hope that some other customer will see her shoe and point it out to me. Nada. I spend 20 minutes looking for a shoe. I am quickly become the befuddled poster child of single shoes abandoned worldwide.
I decide to take one last pass at the Christmas section. We re-trace all of our steps, and I’m about to give up. I’m pretty dejected. They were a great pair of shoes, and we couldn’t go home with one shoe. The Doodle only has two pairs of shoes and she pretty much has decided that she doesn’t like the other pair and never wears them.
But I’m laughing inside. Cause it’s pretty funny. I lost a shoe. I don’t even know how I lost a shoe. And as I’m laughing at the circumstances, and sharing the story with a random lady, she turns and a lonely size 8 burgundy toddler shoe catches her eye, and everything is good again.