I went to one of the big shopping centres today. On my own.
We used to live really close to this shopping centre and I used to go there ALOT.
I used to take the girls there, strapped into the twin pram, when they were really small. Grabbing a few hours of something between the endless hours of feeding and crying. Braving what felt like a million pointing fingers and stupid comments (“Are they twins?” – “No this one is two years older, we just don’t feed her”.) just to feel like I’d done ‘something’ with my day. Just so I felt like I was coping. Hey I left the house with two 3 month old babies, who cares if all I did was wander aimlessly around Highpoint for a few hours.
I knew that place inside and out. I felt at home there, comfortable and in control.
When we moved out to the ‘almost country’ I thought I’d miss it… alot.
But then the girls went from babies to toddlers and there were gardens to grow and chickens to feed and before I knew it it had been months since we’d been anywhere near the shopping centre. And I didn’t miss it at all.
We still go there from time to time. It is the ‘close’ big shops which has almost everything in one spot, so I save up till I have a big list and then brave it on a week day when I know it will be quiet.
It feels exciting to be planning a trip there, but it doesn’t take long for the excitement to wear off and the drudgery of dragging three kids around the shops to get me down. And time goes all wonky when you are in one of those places, when you can’t see outside to know if it’s day light or night time. And the constant noise… And the people who don’t understand that if you stop dead right in front of me with no warning I have no choice but to run into you with my pram….
But it was a special kind of joy to go there today… alone.
It’s so easy to blend in when you are on your own. So easy to just slip by people as you walk. So easy to sit quietly and eat some lunch while you people watch. So nice to have some time to take it all in and ponder the strangeness of the whole ‘shopping centre thing’.
There were loads of school kids there today. I am guessing today was their last day of school and they got out early, and headed straight to the shopping centre. It’s The place to hang out, obviously.
There was one young man ahead of me in line to get lunch. He was on his own, quiet and very polite when he accidentally bumped into me after getting his food. I saw him a few minutes later when he’d been joined by a big group of other boys and the pack mentality had set in. The swearing and fighting and carry-on that teenage boys do. Nothing horrific or spectacular, but so far from the young man who’d apologised to me earlier.
The girls were out in big groups too… fighting as much as the boys and totally oblivious to other people trying to get past.
I watched them for a while and almost ‘tut tutted’ their behaviour then chastised myself for becoming a grumpy old woman. They weren’t doing anything so terrible…
Still, I suddenly thought how pleased I was that this ‘hang out at the mall in a big group’ culture probably wasn’t going to be part of my kid’s teenage years. I’m sure it is just harmless fun… but it seems so aimless and so full of peer pressure. They seem to loose their individuality and become part of a crowd, just doing what everyone expects them to do.
Sure my kids will probably find something else equally teenage angst ridden and obnoxious to do that will annoy the bejeebus out of me…. but I’m still glad it won’t be ‘hanging at the mall’…. at least not until they can drive themselves!