What a bust

Sovanna was shooting a wedding today, so it was just Little Dude and me. We do that most days of the week, but for some reason I felt like we should do something special since it was the weekend.

We would have gone to the park or to do something outside, but it was eleventy billion degrees outside with 115% humidity. After running in that for a couple of hours, I had had my fill. We were going to go to Chocolate World, but I couldn’t justify that drive for only that purpose. I just couldn’t think of anything else fun in that area to make it worth the trip. After a plea on Facebook, I decided to borrow a page from my brother’s parenting book: we went to the Harrisburg Mall.

I hate malls. I really, really hate them. But my brother swears that his kids love it there. He takes them to Bass Pro and to the little play place. I decided that we would give it a shot.

The heavens opened up and POURED just as we pulled into the parking lot. I threw Little Dude in his stroller and headed into Bass Pro. There is simply too much camouflage in that place for me. It is absolutely not my cup of tea. I trudged on, though, and showed him the various mounted animals (come on, you know what I mean) and he seemed mildly amused. He squealed a little at the fish and made his fish face, which looks nothing like a fish – rather, it looks kinda like when grandpa forgets to put in his dentures. And I think it’s adorable.

After we gave that a whirl, we went to look for the play place. It is nothing special, but looked pretty good for an 18 month old who isn’t great with getting on and off furniture, toys, etc. I got him out of his stroller and he just stood there. There were a bunch of kids absolutely screaming while playing a game. It was obnoxious, and a clear violation of one of the two rules of the play area (the other being “no shoes”). Little Dude finally got bold and started to check things out.

I noticed a youngish mother sitting on one of the chairs, talking on her cell phone. I figured out which kids were hers by observing that all of the other children had parents who were monitoring them. These three kids were out of control. The youngest was probably not much older than Little Dude, but he was a big kid. The older two were probably 5 and 6, or something like that. They all decided that had to follow Little Dude around and touch him constantly. It was annoying, not cute like it could have been. The older two would periodically run away and play elsewhere, but the little one stayed around. He kept grabbing Little Dude, touching his hair (which was the same as his, so not a novelty) and just getting way too close. At one point, he ran over and grabbed my leg in a big hug and looked up at me for a response. He clearly needed some maternal attention, but his maternal unit could not be bothered.

This child kept bothering (yes, bothering) my child. I would politely pull him off of Little Dude, tell him no, and guide him away. The mom would yell at one of her other two children and tell them to get the baby. A couple of times this child got a wee bit rough with Little Dude. When I pulled him away, the mom finally got off of her butt (though not her phone), grabbed him way too roughly and proceeded to smack his hand way too hard while having the guile to tell him he shouldn’t hit people.

I don’t view smacking a child’s hand as an abhorrent punishment, but it needs to be appropriate. If Little Dude reaches his finger towards the outlet, that gets a hand slap. If he reaches for a knife in the dishwasher, that gets a hand slap. I don’t see how a child is going to be able to process his punishment of being hit in response to him hitting someone.

This went on for a while. I wanted to say something, but didn’t know what to say. It was not the kind of place where I wanted to have a confrontation. I tried to instead focus my attention on my son and to help him get on and off the slides and cars, etc. As Little Dude was standing still, looking at one of the cars, that same little boy came over, grabbed him by each of his shoulders (all the while with a weird sort of glassy look in his eyes), and started to almost shake him. I was close but not close enough to prevent him from grabbing Elijah, and I didn’t want to overreact if Elijah wasn’t freaked out. I didn’t want to make it worse. Well, I looked at his face and it was one of fear. I had never seen that face before. His eyes were huge. I nearly started to cry as I pulled that child off of him for the last time.

I picked up Little Dude and took him to the stroller. He started to cry, of course. He was right to do so, too. He did nothing wrong, yet he was the one who had to leave and who was basically being punished. All because some lazy woman wouldn’t take the time to actually parent her children.

Stuff like that makes me so, so mad, but that whole topic needs its own blog. I need to go to sleep.

And I can’t believe that I am going to say this, but Bass Pro was the highlight of our day. Ugh.


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