Malls ‘N’ Things

For years now one of my daughter’s and her friends’ favourite things to do has been “going to the mall.” They love meeting at the mall, hanging out at the mall, looking at and trying on clothes at the mall, shopping at the mall, eating at the mall, checking out other teenagers at the mall. It’s not like they buy a lot of stuff – they usually come home with nothing or maybe one small item. So, what’s the attraction?

 “I don’t know. It’s fun.” She says.

How can something I loathe with every fibre of my being be fun for this child that I squeezed sprang from my very own loins?

For the longest time I wouldn’t allow “hanging out” at the mall. She could only go when she had something specific she needed to buy.

“Whhhhyyyyyyyeeeeeeeee?” She’d wail. “Everyone else gets to go to the mall whenever they waaaaaaaaaannt.” (This is her fall-back argument for everything. I’m apparently the only parent in the world who doesn’t let their kid do whatever they want. I’m very ashamed of this.)

“Here’s why not,” I’d tell her.

  • The mall is horrible.
  • It’s not outdoors.
  • It has fake lighting and fake air.
  • It’s loud – especially some of the boutiques where the music is danceclub-loud.
  • Everything is overpriced.
  • It sucks the life out of independent businesses which cities need to stay alive.
  • Everything is the same from shop to shop to shop.
  • It’s filled with chain stores that under-pay staff and sell goods made in sweat-shops in third-world countries.
  • Mobs of teenagers hang out there looking for trouble.
  • Creeps hang out there looking for teenagers.
  • It’s crowded, smelly and hot.
  • Satan lives at the mall. He’ll steal your soul when you walk down that long creepy hall to the washroom.

Her eyes would usually glaze over by the time I got to point #2.

Now that she’s almost 17, I’ve loosened up the mall restrictions a bit – mainly because a) she’s not all that obsessed with the mall anymore; and b) every five minutes there’s something new I have to say “Hmmmm, I don’t think so” to. Such as:

  • Can my boyfriend sleep over? He doesn’t want to bus home late at night. We won’t DO anything. Everyone else’s parents let their boyfriends sleep over. (Fortunately the boyfriend’s parents also said, “NO!!”) Ha!
  • Can you buy some vodka coolers for me and my friends for the party on Saturday? Next year I’ll be 18 and can buy them myself in Quebec.
  • Can I get a tattoo? Only a small one. Next year I’ll be 18 and won’t need your permission.
  • Can I get _____ (fill in the blank) pierced? Next year I’ll be 18 and won’t need your permission.
  • Will you call the school for me, I want to sleep in this morning.
  • Can I have an iPhone, my cell phone doesn’t work right since I put it through the washing machine. Everyone else has an iPhone.
  • Can I have my own apartment?
  • Can I go to New York one weekend with my friend Kiera? Everyone else’s parents let them go to New York ALL the time. They’ve got awesome shopping there.

Which brings me back to the mall thing.

Some US cities have been banning teens (without adult accompaniment) from malls during certain hours/days. They feel it’s made malls much more pleasant for everyone. I reckon rowdy teenagers at malls are the least frightening thing about malls.

And, malls lately have seemed like one of the least frightening things about teenagers.


31 responses to “Malls ‘N’ Things

  1. gawd, that second round of questions left me with hives. i’m so unprepared to be a mother of teenage girls. i think i want a nerd!

  2. Your 17-year-old daughter wants to know, if YOU can go buy some booze for her, because she’ll be legal to buy them in Quebec…..NEXT year?


    Nice try! 😀

    But you gotta admire her persistence, though.

  3. Did I just finish saying how blessed I feel to have TWO daughters???? I can’t do it. I really can’t raise them through those years. I’m a nervous mess now how will I handle those questions!

    When I first read what you had written about the mall I was thinking ‘what’s the big deal?’ but then I got to ‘the list’ and I GET the big deal with the mall. Yikeeeeeees.

  4. The allure of the mall might be due to the fact that we don’t provide many alternative places for teenagers to hang out with groups of friends. Where else can they go that’s warm and free? Personally, I’m with you – the mall suck the life right out of me. There’s not enough oxygen to go around. But if I couldn’t meet my friends at pubs and restaurants and coffee shops, I might be forced to hang out at the mall too. Either that, or give up friends altogether during the winter.

  5. Meanie – Adolescence will help prepare you for teenagers. It all sounds horrible now, but it will creep up on you day by day until one day you’re the mother of teenagers and it won’t be quite so overwhelming. The difficult thing is that they suddenly start growing up by leaps and bounds and you have to somehow keep up. Do you let them go to a sleepover at someone’s house who you’ve never even heard mention before and trust them or do you embarrass them by demanding the kid’s home phone number and calling their parents to see what the deal is – will the parents be home, how many kids are coming, will there be boys/alcohol/drugs? What kind of people are these people? It really is something new every freakin’ day.

    Friar – Well, I sometimes let her have a bit of wine or beer at home, so I guess she thinks there’s no difference between that and me supplying her and her friends with booze for a party. I set her straight.

    Betsy Mae – See my response to Meanie.You really have to hang tough. Teenagers are furiously trying to be independent and grown-up and think they know everything and are invincible. This is when they need you more than ever to set boundaries and say no to many of their crazier impulses. And keep talking to them whatever you do. If you have to pry conversation out of them with a crowbar, find out what they do all day. Find out who their friends are, what’s going on with the friends. The best thing you can do is to have a home with a finished basement where they can have their own bedroom and lounging/rec area so that your place is the place everyone wants to go most of the time. At least then you’ll know your girls are safe.

    Zoom – That’s it exactly. Everything else costs money. And hanging around someone’s house gets boring all the time. And I’m sure even if we did set up “teen centers” they wouldn’t come because they’d be strictly supervised by Pat Boone type characters. In Halifax they had an “alcohol-free” dance venue where they held raves a couple times a week with no Pat Boone supervision. It was a nightmare. No regular teenager would go within miles of the place. What did you do when you were a teen in this city? I lived out in the boonies so we just hung around outside in the bush or something smoking and drinking and stuff.

    Ken – Feel free to review my notes to both Meanie and Betsy Mae.

    Sky – Well, she DOES seem to be having a wonderful time. She’s off all weekend long being a social butterfly. I don’t mind her going to the mall so much now that she’s older and a bit wiser, but at 12 or 13 I was scared to death of her wandering around there with her little tween friends.

  6. I know exactly how to handle those questions, and fortunately, so does their father. I’m sure they’ll get into strange/illegal/sexual situations while they are under parental guidance, but I’m also pretty sure it will be on their mother’s watch, not ours. She’s permissive bordering on idiotic. Can’t fix stupid.

  7. “It sucks the life out of independent businesses which cities need to stay alive.
    Everything is the same from shop to shop to shop.
    It’s filled with chain stores that under-pay staff and sell goods made in sweat-shops in third-world countries. ”

    These are some of the reasons why I don’t like the plan to turn Lansdowne into a giant shopping mall with a movie theatre.

  8. I grew up in a part of town where the mall was where you went for all your shopping, before giant box/grocery stores became popular. Now, though, living downtown, I can’t walk into a mall without feeling nauseous. The cops that hang out in the Rideau Centre also give off a really nasty vibe.

    Good on you for training your daughter to avoid malls. Hopefully she’ll grow up to dislike them, too.

    – RG>

  9. Our kids are pretty close to the same age so I can relate to each and every one of those non-mall requests.

    It’s even worse now that she has a paying job and can say:

    “Well, if you won’t give me money to do “XXX”, then I can pay for it myself!”

    When confronted with the ‘consequences’ threat, the reply is: “meh, it will be worth being grounded for a week or two!”

    That being said, she has yet to follow through…

    I guess it is my role as a parent to continue to be that big, tall and slippery wall that my daughter will continue to climb over or drive through until such time that I decide she is reasonable enough to be thrown a ladder.

    BTW – I like saying “meh”.

  10. You guys are all spoiled.

    The nearest mall where I live is 45 minutes away.

    And it’s a pretty shitty mall, at that.

    But we’re GLAD to have it.

    I’s got Mark’s Work Warehouse….a Coles Bookstore, a CD store, a pharmacy.

    Not to mention the only multi-plex movie theater within a 120 mile radius.

    What MORE do you want?

  11. Susan – So there really ARE parents who let their kids do whatever they want? I don’t think of those parents as having made a decision to be “cool” and trust and respect their kids’ independence. I think of those parents as giving up – as being too damn lazy to keep on top of the whole parenting thing. As you know it’s damn hard work and the easy thing would be to just say “fine, whatever, I want to get on with my life — let them do what they want.” Good for you and hubby for sticking to your guns. I think teenagers especially need to know someone is still looking out for them.

    Hannah – NO – we need more soul-sucking malls and multi-plex cinemas. Go Landsdowne!!

    Grouchy – “nauseated”..the word you want is “nauseated”. Nauseous is an adjective. That being said, Rideau is nauseous. I don’t remember seeing cops there, but then I’m never there long enough to really look around. I understand it’s a dangerous place, though. I hear the tough kids talk about it on the bus.

    Trashee – I’ve never had to ground my daughter. I think that’s kind of odd since I was grounded for pretty much my whole teenagehood. I suspect that at least 50% of the stuff she asks me for she doesn’t really want me to give permission on. I think she’s just asking to see if I’m paying attention. Because sometimes what she asks is so outrageous I can’t believe she has any expectation of being allowed to do it. And if I look like I’m thinking about something that might go either way, she sweetens the pot with a lot of unnecessary information – like “everybody will be drinking” or “I don’t know how we’re going to get home” which will pretty much guarantee I’ll say no. Odd isn’t it?

    Friar – A grocery store and a liquor store?

  12. I’m a convicted murderer so I’ll have no problem with my girls. I’ll just show the boys my rap sheet.

    I’m also a quasi-geek so I’ll have GPS’s implanted in them and tap into the mall security system so I can watch them wherever they go.

    Or if I could be serious for 3 seconds I could actually raise my girls right give them love support confidence and information. Being a parent is tough hard work but worth it if you are consistant and persistant.


    P.S. The comma key is broken on my keyboard. I apologize for my poor gammer, but my spelling still sux.

  13. When I was a teen, I didn’t want to spend hours and hours with the same bunch of people so I would hang with one set for a couple of hours at the library (I know), another friend at her house, another set doing extra curricular stuff like working on the yearbook. THAT took a lot of time. Then there were things like horseback riding lessons. Nowadays, I would spend some time with a like minded friend at the gym. Now that I think of it, the only time I was ever doing “nothing” was when I was reading. I dislike just hanging – I have to have a purpose.

  14. My only response would have been, “Looks like next year is going to be a good year for us both, you’ll be 18 making your own way in the world and I can finally convert your room into the S&M Dungeon I have always wanted. Yea 2010!!!”

  15. And people wonder why I didn’t go forth and multiplied!
    My dog doesn’t drink my booze or want to get anything pierced.
    He’s got a tattoo though.
    18 months old and has a tat…
    Shit I waited until I was 38.

  16. You have my full sympathy. I think when my daughter comes over tomorrow night I’m going to give her a great big hug and say, “I’m so glad you’re 25!”

    I’m surprised she still doesn’t have a tattoo. I asked her a few weeks ago and she said never got one because she could never make up her mind about what to get. She did get her nose pierced at 18 while at college, but I’m not sure if she still wears that thing or not.

  17. Eyeteaguy – Lots of parents actually do gps their kids’ cellphones and/or cars and I’m sure some of them are convicted murders. It IS a lot of work and constant vigilance. I’m not into letting my daughter make all her own decisions. Teenagers are still kids. Their brains have not yet fully developed that function that allows them to actually realize the consequences of their actions and yet they have the need to try everything, experience everything NOW. I think they need parents more than at any other age.

    Grouchy – S’okay, I was feeling particularly pernickety.

    Julia – Hanging out IS a purpose. I don’t think my daughter would consider that doing nothing. Doing nothing is being home with me.

    Heathen – We’re not allowed to have guns in Canada. We just hit each other upside the head with snowshoes and stuff. (They can really, really hurt though)

    Cedar – I’m trying to imagine how this is all going to go actually. She’ll be 18 and legally allowed to do all sorts of stuff all of a sudden. I can still say no, but for how long is that going to hold any water? I guess I can always play the “my house, my rules” card. I really hated that card, though. I’m hoping her brain catches up so she doesn’t do anything too insane.

    Lebowski – And when he gets to be too much of a pain you can have him put down. Try that with kids and see what happens! (Why does your dog have a tattoo?)

    Geewits – She’s actually pretty good considering what a lot of other kids get up to. I have no major objections to a small tattoo or a piercing or two, but I don’t want to be the one who makes that decision. If she does it when she’s old enough legally to decide for herself then she has only herself to berate the rest of her life when she’s sorry. I do NOT want to be responsible for a tattoo she hates for the next 60 years. I can hear her “What were you thinking allowing a stupid 16-year-old to get a tattoo???” Like the woman in my office whose parents allowed her to get married at 16 to a 28 year old guy. Yes, she begged and pleaded and threatened all sorts, but she’ll never forgive them for not saying NO really, really firmly.

  18. I’ve often said that I’ll happily trade the grocery bills of 3 oversized boys (each 95th percentile or more) for 3 teenaged girls any day. Teenaged girls scared me even when I was one.

    Having said that, I would likely not overly object to the mall thing. We used to hang out at our local mall, maybe the equivalent of half of Hazeldean, when I was a kid. As Zoom said, it was the only place we could go. Better than sneaking in to all the clubs that would overlook our obvious underagedness, anyway….

  19. You can play the, I brought you into this world I can take you out…card also. My father’s personal favorite. I hated Bill Cosby for that.

  20. oh christ, i always hated shopping. and i hate the mall like burning. i have no idea why people want to go ‘hang around’ surrounded by Stuff in stale air that’s been circulated since the days of Methuselah and take in every horrible odor in that place and shuffle around from one shop to another to another. mum was quite the shopper, maybe it was her dragging us along as kids that made me hate it so much.

    mum’s friends with sons think she’s lucky that she has daughters she can go shopping with. mum laughs bitterly at the suggestion because neither of us can stand the mall and when pressed for a particular item will usually buy it online to avoid going anywhere.

    i wouldn’t do 17 again for a number of very, very good reasons myself, but i grew up in such a small town, it was only theoretically possible for me to ask to go around with anyone i hadn’t known since preschool.

    i think the drinking age should be lower, like the driving age, just because the longer they are under your care to learn lessons about these things the better. having drinking and adulthood intersect at the same point is just a setup for … well, what we have – which is a bunch of kids the same age all learning these lessons from/with each other on the fly, and some die figuring out how much is too much. it’s a bad dynamic.

  21. I used to love going to the mall as a teen because it was such a luxury for me. I lived in the boonies…it was an hour drive to the nearest mall, and it was in Pembroke, so it hardly counted. A few times a year we’d go to Ottawa and get to go to Bayshore or St Laurent, which was such a treat. I think that’s why I still like malls now.

    That said, the other list of teenaged questions scare the bejeezus out of me. Yikes! Glad I have another 8 years till DD is a teenager. Hopefully she’ll be a geeky one like her mom.

  22. Dani – I know there are other, healthier, free places to hang out, but teenagers like the crazy social aspect of the mall. There are parks to congregate in, community centers, other kids’ homes, the library. I know – boring.

    Cedar – Yikes.

    Hallie – I like shopping with my daughter – but not at the mall. There are lots of other places to shop – thrift shops, downtown shops. Fortunately, she likes those too, so we have fun together occasionally. And I agree about the drinking. I have no problem with my kid having a drink at home once in a while. I’m just not about to buy it for her and her friends to take to a party. I could get into big poop for that.

    Mary Lynn – No, you don’t really want your kid to be a geek, do you? I make it sound a lot worse than it is or than it could be. I’ve heard much worse from other parents. If you’re raising a good kid, she’s not suddenly going to become wild.

  23. good for you for putting forth the effort to raise her for the future, and not caving in to “what everyone else is doing”… i think the crazy starts in middle school and i can see now why people would lend their kids to the catholic church for a few years. not that i would do that.

    i don’t like the mall either, but i did used to hangout in one when i was a teenie bopper. lots of opportunities for weirdos to prey on the kids.

  24. My daughter always wanted to go to the mall too-usually to meet boys. I actually dropped her off once, then parked and tried to follow her to see what she was up to but she caught me. I hate malls as well.

  25. I concur with every single one of your reasons not to hang out at the mall. Glad to have them listed. Perhaps Ill keep it for when my nieces get to be older than the fun, but exhaustive ten years-old they are right now.

  26. Leah – Yes there are. Whenever I won’t let my daughter do something she always accuses me of not trusting her and I have to explain over and over it’s not her I don’t trust; it’s all the scary crazy weird stuff and people she will encounter.

    Linda – Ha ha. Parents sometimes have to do such humiliating and sneaky things to keep their kids safe, don’t they?

    LoLa – At 10 it won’t be long before the mall-longing kicks in, believe me. Get that list ready!