Posted by She Said
Today I took the kids to an enormous mall (seriously it HAS to rival Mall of America) that has one whole floor dedicated to all things kids.
- Children’s clothing stores. Check.
- Toy stores. Check.
- Arcade. Check.
- McDonald’s ice cream cones. Check.
- Stage for kid’s shows. Check.
- Place to fish for goldfish. Check.
- Art area. Check.
- Circus style trampoline thingy. Check.
- Place to dig for dinosaur bones. Check.
- Ball pit. Check.
- Lady with microphone that won’t get out of Emily and Braedyn’s faces. Check.
In order to get to this mall, we have to take a taxi. The two times we have gone, getting there has been no problem at all. I show the driver the map of the mall, the driver nods, and then I struggle to keep my two children, two children without any kind of seatbelt restraints mind you, from keeping their hands and feet inside the ride at all times.
Getting home, well, that’s a whole other can of worms. The business card for the apartment/hotel we are in has a map on the back. A map that is COMPLETELY WORTHLESS. The first time getting home from this mall, I had to call one of Greg’s coworkers to direct the driver to our place. Today, we all hopped into the back of the taxi, and I handed the card to the driver. He looked at it intently and then shook his head no and pointed to the door. We hauled ourselves out of the back seat and hailed a different taxi. This time the driver looked at the card and then back at me, looked at the card again, and then shook his head. Of course, he also said something to me in Chinese. That helped. So, this time I pointed to the subway stop on the map that is closest to our house. He nodded, and we climbed in to the back seat. Each kid wants a window seat, so I am left sitting between them with a very clear view of our
near-death experiences drive home. He took us to a subway station, not the one near our house that I pointed to on the map, but hey it was doable and we got home.
Anyway, back to the mall. First stop, circus style trampoline thingy. I was surprised that Emily wanted to try this and Braedyn didn’t. Of course, as soon as she was strapped in, he insisted on having his turn too.
Emily’s turn was shortened because she is so light, the guy working the circus trampoline thingy had to keep pulling the straps around her waist down. You know, kind of like a sling shot to make her fling up into the air. Let’s just say she wasn’t a fan and her turn was rather short at her own insistence.
Then came the excavation. The rather painful (for me) excavation. Braedyn saw a big sandy pit surrounded by glass cabinets displaying dinosaur bones. He was so excited to do a “real dig for bones” that I pulled out my handy iPhone and pulled up the phrase, “How much is this?” The guy held up 10 fingers. 10 yuan each? Hooray. Let’s do it. So I nodded for the kids to start digging:
And then the real mission started. Digging for the exact understanding of how this little mall attraction worked. Were they actually digging for the bones that were displayed in the cabinet? Did they even hide anything in that sand? Was I suppose to buy something first and have them put it in the sand for the kids to find? Where were they hiding the Candid Camera?
Sadly, my iPhone app does not have any of these as standard questions, so our “conversation” went something like this:
Me: <pointing at the dinosaur bone kits in the glass cabinet> Something in English? <pointing to the sand>
Him: <pointing to the cabinets> Something in Chinese.
Him: Something else in Chinese.
Me: Something in English. <desperately seeking for help on my iPhone app>
Him: Something in Chinese. <smile>
Me: Uhhhhhhh…… Due boo xia (phonetic Chinese for I’m sorry)
Him: Something in Chinese.
Then he ran off. I only hoped it was for some linguistic assistance. And then I saw the crowd of people watching us and the lovely spectacle that we had become.
As if riding a chariot led by two muscular white horses, a member of the property management team showed up with my mall attraction guy. Or should I say, a member of the property management team who also spoke English.
At this point, I felt really terrible for causing so much fuss. So far, I have been able to figure most things out using charade skills or my handy iPhone. This time was a total bust. The gentleman said hello and asked if he could be of assistance.
After I apologized profusely for creating such a scene, he explained that for 50 yuan each, the children could pick something out of the glass cabinets. I happily handed over my 100 yuan, the kids got their dinosaur bone puzzles, and I thanked him for his and the mall attraction guy’s kindness.
I still don’t know if they were actually supposed to find anything in the sand. I didn’t ask. I was just so happy to get the kids their dinosaur bones and hightail it out of there to the nearest place to order a drink.
Cappuccino for 10 yuan. Not quite what I had in mind, but it gave me enough energy for the next part of our outing – the hamster tunnel/zip line/slide/ball pit/lady with the mic part.
I bought the tickets for the kids to enter this play area, presumably to wear them out so much that putting them to bed by myself that night wouldn’t be an issue. Greg was going for his foot massage after work, and I was on my own. I wanted them TIRED.
And tired they were. Not necessarily from climbing up to the zip line or crawling through the hamster tunnels, but rather from running away from a woman who was intent on getting them to speak into her microphone. With music blaring loudly, she was teaching several children what I assumed to be traditional Chinese songs, accompanied by what I assumed to be traditional Chinese hand signals. That’s what she was doing until we walked in anyway. Once the kids stepped foot into the area, she stopped what she was doing and tried to get Braedyn and Emily to say their names into her mic. They were intent on the zip line and b-lined it there; so they were safe. For the moment.
The lady wanted to talk to them so badly, she followed them into the ball pit.
Emily bailed, so she cornered Braedyn.
The lady was very nice and enthusiastic, and I’m certain she thought the kids were having fun with her following them around. I can assure you though, they were not. The lady kept motioning for them to come out and dance with her. I called the kids over to me, and I smiled at them. Then through gritted teeth in a low voice so no one could hear me rock the group harmony going on, I said, “Get. Out. There. Now. Dance. One dance. Or I will take away your dinosaur bones.” I barely had the word bones hissed through my clenched teeth, and they were out there boogying.
I wasn’t trying to be mean to the kids by making them do something they didn’t want to do; I just figured she’d leave them alone if they did. Yeah, what the hell do I know.