So That Worked Out Well

It’s rainy and cold here this week. We’re stuck indoors, and That Baby is the PICTURE of bored. She is bored out of her skull. She is bored like a bored thing that is really, really bored.

So this morning, I just couldn’t stand it anymore. We went to the mall.

We’re lucky in that we have a really good mall about 2 minutes’ drive from here. On warmer days, we could walk, and it’s only about 20 minutes’ walk. But since it’s cold and rainy, we opted for the drive.

I packed a diaper bag with diapers and a change of clothes and a sippy and some toys, and off we went. I wasn’t entirely sure what we’d do there, but Stinkerbelle needed new shoes so I thought that might be something. But beyond that, since BDH and I have started another 100 Day exercise challenge, I’d get in my exercise walking around the mall.

We strollered into the mall, and it was nice and quiet. A few older folks, some young women, and a whole lot of stroller moms. I guess I was not the only one feeling housebound with her kid today.

We stopped in and got some shoes at the kids’ clothing stores. Some sandals at Oshkosh, some runners and water shoes at Children’s Place… and dancing with the staff at Children’s Place. (Yeah. My kid’s got the rhythm in her. She can’t stop it.) So that was good — I got something done, quickly and easily. Already the morning was a success.

But beyond that, it was all about the walking. Up and down the hallways, around into other wings, up, down… it’s a decent walk. I know it’s a popular indoor walking destination in winter (but one that we hadn’t taken advantage of yet).

I let Stinkerbelle out to get some exercise, too. She needed to get her ya-yas out something fierce. So I watched and followed along as she marched, and trotted, and danced, and babbled and waved at strangers, and just generally had some fun. She was a bit loud — she’s big on cheerful, boisterous self-expression — but nobody seemed to mind this morning.

And she has a tendency to run headlong into a store and start boogie-ing it up between the displays if she hears a tune she loves — so I am sure the folks at the lingerie store and the mens’ clothing place got a kick out of her, too.

That Baby loves the wide open spaces in the mall, the different coloured tiles on the floor, the skylights and high ceilings. She pointed to everything, and explored everywhere. But after about an hour, she was getting bored.

So I decided it was time to go upstairs and check out the Early Years Centre.

I don’t know if other places have programs like the Ontario Early Years Centres, but doG love our gub’mint for coming up with the idea. They have drop-in programs where kids up to the age of six can go with their parents or caregivers and just play, and they have registered programs for playing, learning and special needs as well. All free of charge. We had never been before, other than to peek in and see what was what, but many of our friends had been to their local OEYC and loved them.

We went in and the foyer was FULL of strollers. So there was a ringing endorsement. And the staffers who met us were welcoming and pleasant. There was a drop-in playtime today until 1 pm, so we filled in our initial registration for the Centre and in we went.

Stinkerbelle was ENCHANTED. There was a WHOLE ROOM full of TOYS. There were KIDS, mostly babies, but still. KIDS. We went through the door and she was OFF. She immediately sat down with two younger babies, and stole one of their balls.

Whoops. Not a great first impression, there, Kid.

But I headed her off before there were tears, and redirected her to a toy I thought she would LOVE: a ball yard. It was a soft swimming-pool-like contraption full of plastic balls. I plonked her in.

If there’s one toy That Baby loves above all others, it’s a ball. So, to be in a bin FULL of them?

She was in HEAVEN.

Stinkerbelle played in that bin for the ENTIRE time we were at the Centre. Kids came and played with her, one by one, until it was a swimming pool full of under-2s. And even as they then drifted off to try other toys, there she sat, buried in balls, and as happy as a pig in poop.

I tried to take her to play with another toy once. She wailed a huge WAAAAAAAAAAAHHHH of sorrow and heartbreak.

I put her back.

Eventually, it was lunchtime, time to leave. Oh the tears! Oh the sadness! Oh the wailing!

The Early Years Centre was a hit. I could tell.

We packed up and came home, but That Baby was miserable through lunch. She was EXHAUSTED from all the dancing and the walking and the playing. I put her down for her nap, and there was barely a peep for two hours. And she woke up happy and ready to go again.

What started as a lousy, cold, boring day turned out to be a fun-filled morning for Stinkerbelle and a productive and pleasant one for me. I guess you can’t ask for much more on an average day.

And now that we know… We’re pencilling in a regular playtime at the mall.

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