Norah and I headed to the mall on Sunday, with a goal to get a couple hats for fall. Of course, being that I'm completely oblivious of things others seem to know, non of the stores were yet open when we arrived. The anchor stores like Target and Sears were open, but everything else was dark and gated. We had three options-- 1. leave, which would mean coming back later; 2. stay at Target, which didn't seem like a great idea being that we always spend a buttload there unnecessarily and Norah terrorizes the entire store for some reason; 3. Playland.
Playland is an area for little kids. The entrance is guarded by a large, plastic bear, holding his or her finger up, indicating you half to be this short to enter Playland. There are a bunch of rules posted, but I only remember that you have to take your shoes off. The Playland "equipment" is kind of a mix between plastic and Nerf material. There's a dump truck/slide and different outdoorsy-type structures, like a tent, a log, a dock, and some creatures. The floor is a little bouncy. Norah was in heaven.
She climbed on all the structures, hid in the log to play peek-a-boo, and climbed up the truck-slide while I caught her on the way down. She screeched with happiness and bounded around.
Soon, there were a bunch of other kids. They were all in heaven, and all seemed well. Then a little girl ran up to me and handed me her socks.
"Socks," she said, matter-of-factly. Then she ran off to play more.
I looked up and saw that I was the only parent on the floor. And the only mom. There were a pile of dads, all either on the benches, or standing around the entrance. Hmm.
"Um," I said, raising my voice a little over the ruckus, "Whose is the pink shirt girl?"
"Um, hello?" I said a little louder. I walked over to Pink Shirt Girl and pointed down to her head as she bounced on a dragonfly structure. "Who belongs to her?"
"What's wrong?" a startled dad perked up. I gave him her socks and he said, "Oh."
Then another boy came and his father sat down and started texting or something with some fancy phone. He started to come to me: "Look at me slide! Look at me jump off here!"
Then another little girl about Norah's age started having me catch her down the slide.
Then another little girl, a little younger than Norah, started whimpering. Her dad snatched her up and asked her what was wrong. Obviously she couldn't talk, so he just stared at her, bewildered. I told him she was sad because her big toe had poked through her tights. "Oh."
As I was listening to Norah tell me which fish structures were the mommy, daddy, and baby, the little girl around her age went down the slide alone and ended up in a pile, crying, at the bottom. I ran over and stood her up, gave her a pat, and she scurried around, climbing up the slide again.
Now this is no commentary on all dads, so don't get all up in arms. But these dads were pretty... hands-off. And I was just confused. I thought the people there were possibly just people who didn't realize the stores weren't open yet, too. But that seemed strange, being that they were all dads. (Sexist, I know.) And they all kind of coupled or grouped off, like they knew each other, chatting about the Vikings or boasting about the daring leap their kid just made off of the turtle structure. Maybe it was a Sunday dads' group thing. None of them said more than "Oh" to me. Interesting. Maybe I infringed on something private. I almost asked.
But I was tired of watching all these kids, clapping for their acrobats and helping them climb stuff. Finally the lights started turning on in the stores and gates were slamming open. I scooped up Norah and dug her shoes out of my purse. Off to get hats. I may go to Playland again on Sunday. Or maybe send Ryan in as a mole.