I have been coming to this mall for a long time. A really long time. This was not my mall. Mine was close enough to walk to in 30 minutes. This one was 15 miles from my house. This one was an anomaly, it only had one floor. My mall had 2 floors and was monstrous compared to this one. My mall had everything I could want and more. As I got older, this mall held nostalgia and also grew to have the stores/items I did want. Now it is my mall by proximity. After we had children, this mall has become my chosen mall. We have 2 weeks off work for winter break and when my son was 9 months old, he would get up at 5am and we needed to get out of the house. I brought him to the mall because going for a run was too cold for him. Going to the park was not an option because I wanted a place he would be able to run around without worry. Home was too small and we wanted mommy to sleep. We came here and I would push the stroller and he would run around. It only took a couple times and he learned to come back to me when I called him. I had found the perfect place to bring him (plus he would tire himself out running for a couple miles at a time so he would go home and sleep for hours). A pleasant revelation was the playground at the mall. I brought him to this little treasure (something I never really noticed before not having children previously) and found it to be a wonder. The floors are cushioned and the toys are too. This was even safer than running around the mall even if it was far more limited a space. We actually would go run the mall first then go play on the playground. At 6 am, there is no one at the mall except people exercising. What I had remembered about the playground was the (seemingly) thousands of kids playing there all at once screaming their heads off and running around full speed (it is a wonder no one got seriously maimed at these things). We were alone and he could learn how to climb the equipment without fear that some 12 year-old would crash into him causing some debilitating injury. We could play together without getting in the way of other children. It was fun. It was bonding.
We went to the mall every day over breaks, and on the weekends during the school year. This was quiet time and this was quality learning time for both of us. When my daughter was born, this changed a bit. He was two and she was too small at first to play, only 5-6 months. I had to keep track of her rather closely. And diapers, feeding, sleep schedule limited the amount of time I could let him play at the mall/playground. The saddest part is the “let him play” because I had to say with the baby. When she was almost a year old, she was old enough to play and the three of us would play together. A lot of memories but more important, bonding occurred there.
Why do I bring all this up now? Today, we went to the mall. It has been months since we went to the mall and the kids asked if we could go. When we got there, there was a woman cleaning the equipment. I figured there was some sort of change today, it happens. Wrong. Apparently they clean it in the early morning on the weekends now. During the week they clean from 2-3 pm. I/we were extremely disappointed. It was just after 8 and we were not going to sit around for an hour waiting (yeah, try sitting around with a 4 and 2 year-old with nothing to do). Walking around the mall holds no thrill for them like it did before. This change in their schedule is very disappointing as it marks the end of a fun time in our lives. Some might say, try another mall. I have gone to all the malls on this side of town. None of the others is as safe, clean, or as interesting for the kids as this playground.
Bottom line…this marks the end of an era in my life with my children. We will still find places to have fun and play but this one was the right place at the right time for all three of us. I guess it is time for all three of us to grow up a little bit.