Monday, December 7, 2009

Free Amusement Park Rides at the Mall

You may call us cheap parents, but we prefer the term creative.

I am a big fan of using creativity for entertainment rather than spending money. I think the best memories are made that way, and the most fun is had.

So really, if you think about it, we are not cheap parents, we are just more creative.

See, Saturday Keith really wanted to get out of the house. He inherited my cabin fever gene, and I think it is amplified in his little body. He just needed to get out and to have a little time for just him. So we left Faye with her grandmother, loaded Keith and his grandfather (who also has cabin fever) into the car and off we drove to the mall.

It was crowded. Crowded is a major understatement. I had to hold Keith's hand tight to keep him from disappearing. He didn't like that. He is 2 now. That means he is old enough to be independent. Or so he thinks.

We dodged through the holiday shoppers and in and out of teens. I was distracted by the bright colors and loud holiday music playing under the din of excited consumers showing eachother what they had bought. The vendors calling out their wares, trying to generate costumers. But not Keith, nothing could sway him from his purpose. He has a one track mind.

He lead us straight to the escalators. We rode it down. We got off and Keith ran right past the long lines of screaming toddlers and tired parents who were paying through the teeth for a picture of their little darlings (who were tired of the shopping frenzy and just wanted food and a bed) sitting on the lap of a chubby old man. $45 dollars for a photo, can you believe it? Keith didn't even glance at them. Eyes focused on the prize he just ran for the up escalator and jumped on for his ride.

Over and over and over we went. I lost track of how many times.

Up.....

Down.....

Up.....

Down.....

Up.....

Down.....

I began to notice mall security watching us and I had to laugh. How great would it be if we got told off or kicked out for riding the escalator? What a great story Keith could tell when he got older. I could just see it...

They would all be sitting in a diner after school. Everyone sitting at the table, except Keith who is leaning up against the wall. He would be wearing a white t-shirt and black jacket. They are talking, he is listening. His friends telling stories of daring and great courage. Keith boredly looking at them, toothpick in his mouth. When their stories end, he slowly reaches up, pulls the toothpick out of his mouth and begins to twirl it in his fingers.

"Yeah?" He would say in a bored voice.

"You all think you are so very brave and cool. Well, my friends, you don't know bravery or coolness. Step into my office and let me tell you about being cool. When I was 2 I got kicked out of the mall. At the age of 2. I have always been a rebel. I have always been cool. That is why they call me the Faunz."

I have high expectations for my child.

And I am not saying getting kicked out of the mall is cool, but really, anything Keith does is cool. Except for the tantrums. Those are just plain funny. But he wont discover that behind my stern eyes and twitching mouth, really lie hysterical peals of laughter. I have a hard time keeping it in sometimes. Occasionally he will see tears in my eyes while he is tantruming. He will ask if I am sad. Really it is from the effort of keeping the laughter hidden. What fun it is to be a parent! Especially a cheap creative parent!

But really, we didn't get kicked out. It just would have made for a fantastic story. I did get kicked out of a McDonald's once, but this isn't about me. Right now we are talking about Keith and the adventures we have with him.

Finally, Keith noticed what was in between the moving stairs. A beautiful North Pole! He ran to the front of the line of tired toddlers and frenzied parents (they all just need some escalator time) and tried to get past the elf guard.

"Mommy, snowman!" He shouted.

Never mind the big man in the red suit, there is a fake snowman! I apologized to the angry throngs and grabbed Keith, carrying him away from the dagger filled glares of tired parents, back to the safety of the moving stairs.

"Couch! Want to want to sit on the couch!" he protested.

That child of mine has great lungs. I am thinking of having him try out to be a megaphone at the next local sporting event. No need for a microphone, I have a Keith!

I looked up and indeed, the couch Santa was using (but not at that moment) did look very comfortable. I don't blame Keith for wanting to sit on it. I wanted to sit on it too. But no way was I paying $45 to let Keith sit on it and get a candy cane. Or a Red Ryder Beebe gun. So I carried away a squirming toddler who can be slipperier than a wet fish (how do toddlers manage that? no matter how tight you hang onto them, they can generally squirm away) and up we went on the escalator. It was time to go home.

What a fun day.

Oh, did I mention, we finally got that snow! It brought with it sub arctic temperatures, but the white stuff is currently decorating my lawn, so I am happy and Christmas feelings are all around. What a perfect day!

And so, you may call us cheap, but I call it living the dream. He wanted the escalator more than anything, and happily, we wanted the same thing... cheap entertainment. Keeping a toddler happy on a toddler sized budget.

Piece. of. cake.

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