Yesterday I spent the day in one of the seven levels of Hell. It was a day that combined two of my least favorite things: a child's birthday party and the mall. You can see the recipe for disaster in the making, can't you?
When I got the invitation I thought, what? A birthday party at a mall? Different. That might work. Maybe. At least, there will be air conditioning.
I got clearance to bring our house guest along. Now, previous to this I have asked this child how many times she has been lost. She wanders and seems somewhat oblivious to who and what is around her at times. I should have brought a leash.
But I get ahead of myself. We start by meeting in the food court of a busy mall in the middle of summer. I need to mention that this is one of the biggest malls in the 4th largest city in America. While I can't even begin to guess how many people were there, I can tell you that they were all talking - loudly. Very. Loudly.
There were tacos. There were giant cookie cakes with large amounts of frosting. And there were kids. This was actually a party for 2 girls. The guests ranged in age from 7 to 16. Other than eating, the only activity for the party was a scavenger hunt. Two teams armed with a list and a camera were sent out to terrorize the mall. Since I had no intention of leaving my two girls in the mall without my supervision, I got to accompany their group.
The teenagers in the group were more than a little determined to take the prize. The little kids were basically along for the ride. And what a ride it was. The teens would run from spot to spot stopping only to record the shot and then move on quickly. Now, I have successfully instilled in my poor daughter a great fear of being lost, or worse, taken in a public place. She would have collapsed from exhaustion before she would have let those big girls out of her sight. She was terrified every time I caught up with them. Sadly, her little friend has not had the benefit of a paranoid mom.
We slow moms were behind the thundering herd who regularly left our sight as they rushed from place to place. We'd catch up, count heads, and move on. One time, as we got in sight again, I found but one girl: my daughter's friend. She was rushing down the mall - alone. I'm running after a running 11 year old screaming her name. Did I mention how loud the mall was? It took awhile for me to catch up with her, but we were both relieved. Several phone calls later, we reconnected with some very freaked out kids who knew they had lost one of their own. A few tears were shed. A new buddy system was instated.
Just about the time I thought I could not do this for another moment before bursting into flames, they completed their list and headed back to base. Victory.
We were invited to continue the afternoon with window shopping, but both the girls were more than a little fried and ready to get home. I did not argue with them.