Panic! at the Mall
We were long overdue for some professional family photos (professional photos, that is, not professional family). Kira scheduled our appointment for 2:15 yesterday, a Saturday, so that we could catch Hakan in between naps, and catch us all in between meals. Alas, the day did not proceed with nearly as much ease as we had envisioned.
When Kira made the appointment, they told us to be on time or risk a long wait. We are no friends of long waits, so we did all that we could to be on time. Unfortunately, Hakan had kept us both awake for a large section of our early (and I mean very early) morning, so we were both quite tired. Kira opted to sleep in and then take over the children later while I napped. I must have napped too long, because it took all we had to get to the mall before our appointment. We made it to the parking lot with 2 minutes to spare, and then spent about 5 minutes wandering the store looking for the studio. Once we checked in, the nice workers politely informed us that they were behind by about 2 sessions. I thought, “And why the [expletive] did you not think to inform us of this minor [expletive] detail when you called to confirm our [expletive] appointment an [expletive] hour ago?” For you see, I had been in such a rush to feed the children lunch and get them in their photo-friendly attire that I was forced to forego lunch, lest I arrive past the agreed-upon time of our appointment. You parents will also understand how difficult it can be to entertain young children in a photo studio for any given amount of time, especially working to keep them from dirtying up their clothes and leading their hairstyles to disarray.
I was doing my best to formulate a diplomatic, but firm, phrasing to express my discontent, but I calmed some when they agreed to accept a sizable coupon that we were not sure would be valid. I bit my tongue for a while longer.
At 3:15, an hour after our “appointment” that turned out to be just a place holder, we were called in. The shoot went well enough, and then began the real challenge. Kira pored over the pictures to decide which to get, while I took the children to the food court in search of sustenance.
By that time, it was 4:00 – a little early for the kids’ dinner, but I did not see how I could keep them occupied while I wolfed down my lunch/dinner. I thought I’d buy them some fries to share, but then figured they were ready and willing to eat then, and if I waited longer I might miss the window of willingness as they got further from their overdue naps. I asked them if they wanted their usual cheeseburgers. Avey decided that she’d rather try the submarine sandwich place. Well, I wanted the taco place. Whatever. I bought the boys their food, and as we were waiting for the order to come, Avey announced that she had changed her mind, and wanted a cheeseburger after all. Brilliant. We waited for the boys’ food, then got back in line to order hers, and waited for it. We then ordered my tacos, and found a place to sit.
Carver has struggled for months now to use his own hands to shovel food into his mouth. He will sit passively until someone picks up a bite and tosses it into his pie hole. Hakan was so sick of sitting still for the camera that he refused to stay in his stroller for lunch, so I let him stand on a chair. Fortunately, he will actually pick up and eat the food of his own volition. Avey can also feed herself.
I got the children started and juggled them while poking at my own food. About halfway through, Carver says to me, “Daddy, I need to go potty!” I had, of course, offered to take him before we got our food, but apparently my attempts to let him have dominion over his bladder were premature. I quickly threw food into little nooks and crannies of the already-over-packed stroller, made some quick and feeble attempt to wipe the grease from the kids’ hands, and then took them all to the restroom. They had a family restroom available, but naturally it was occupied. I hauled them into the men’s room, which smelled far worse than any zoo exhibit we’d ever visited. I nearly lost my appetite as we managed to be in everyone’s way getting Carver on the potty. He almost wouldn’t go because the hand dryers are about as loud as jet engines, but he did finally relieve himself.
We made our way back out to the food court, and finished our meal with defeated looks on all of our faces.
Kira joined us, and while she got her food, I took the kids to the play area of the mall. That place is a free-for-all, dog-eat-dog, death trap. There are rules posted, but either the parents ignore them or cannot read. There were children far taller than the limit, running around playing chasing games, and about a quarter of them were wearing shoes. I played Hakan’s body guard, and Carver dove right in to the chaos to release some built up tension.
Hakan was tentative, but eventually tried out climbing on some of the equipment. There was one point where a flock of little girls swarmed him, but they were harmless. A boy a little bigger than he approached him at one time, and tugged on his arms a bit. I watched closely to see how he would react, maybe making a friend. Before I could do anything, the boy had Hakan in a headlock and had thrown him to the ground. I rushed in and picked him up, and firmly told the bully that it is not okay to do that. Of course, his parents were nowhere to be found, probably on their phones reading up on the latest Kardashian shenanigans rather than parenting. The boy approached Hakan a few minutes later, and I was prepared this time. As soon as he grabbed Hakan’s arm, I jumped in and did what his parents should have been doing.
After what seemed like an eternity, we were united again and left the mall to marinade in its anarchy. Weary, we returned home and proceeded to get the children in bed.
And the countdown to the next family photo shoot commences…