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.