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To the Lady at the Mall

*Disclaimer: this post is intended to be sarcastic.*

Dear Lady at the Mall,

Yeah, after the way you looked at me waddling toward the play place, a child on each hand, I discovered the smear of toothpaste from someone’s small lips all over the underbelly of my shirt. You had a look of pity in that smile, and I had assumed it was because I’m great with child and have two others under five. But now I think it’s probably because you realized I didn’t get the chance to glance at myself in the mirror before we left the house. It’s true – I didn’t. Because if I had taken the time to do that, one of my kids would manage to lose the shoes I had already double knotted on their feet and the other would’ve peed their pants.

But don’t worry, Lady. I am totally owning this toothpaste stain. This Big Mama is working it. Rocking it, even. As you probably already noticed, it matches pretty well with the wrinkled look and dark eye circles I’m sporting. At least I’m wearing some bracelets. I am quite the pair with my daughter, whose twenty barrettes around a crooked and messy ponytail create some awkward bumps under the sweatshirt hood she insists on wearing, even though it is 73 degrees outside. You must pity my poor son, who looks very normal and unfashionable in his pants and tshirt. His only defining characteristic this morning is his unruly cowlick. I confess I tried to wet it down with about three gallons of water, but no one listens to me, least of all the unruly cowlick.

Yes, I know I’m carrying a bright pink lunchbox into the food court of the mall. We do that “bring your own lunch” thing, and I’d thank you not to let my kids in on the fact that everyone else gets to eat chicken nuggets and ketchup when they come here. Listen, I already masterfully diced my kids’ lunch into appealing snack sized bites and packed them into cute snack cups. Nevermind that I will end up feeding them each bite anyway because their arms suddenly develop headaches at the sight of real food. If you ask me, I’ll tell you we are playing mommy and baby birds. But if you simply watch, it might look more like I’m pleading and threatening rather than playing. But not bribing. A mom’s gotta draw the line somewhere.

That’s right, my son is the one running at top speed and honking in his loudest voice. This play place doesn’t really require inside voices, right? Race cars and trains and construction trucks all make that honk, and it’s important for those honks to be done somewhere that’s not the car or the kitchen or in my ear. I’m sure you can get used to it if you sit here and watch us long enough. But you can go ahead and sit in a different part of the food court if you want . These honks will follow you there too , but they may sound more endearing if you’re farther away and you give them a chance to drift toward you through the air. It’s all about the distance, really. They’re very tolerable about 50 to 100 feet away, at which point they kind of break into various harmonies of each other.

And don’t worry about sticking around so you can gasp at all of those crazy tumbles my daughter is taking. The nose dive off of the squishy pig really wasn’t so bad, and the little boy she smashed into at the bottom of the slide was totally fine. His mom only rushed over because he’s, like, bigger than her and didn’t even cry. After all, she is the only girl here and is trying to keep up with all the boys. We’ve already discovered that no little boy respects a girl playing with a hot wheels car – they think it’s some kind of mistake. They take it away like it’s an insult for her to have it. How else will she stake her claim at the play place without a little rough and tumble?

Oh, ok. I’ll let you go now. No worries , we can handle the rest of this outing alone. I promise we will make it out of here and all the way home, with or without incident. You never know, really, which it will be, but it will be one of them. I’ll let you imagine the worst, and then I’ll scale it back just a bit. I’m really glad you were here to watch us today. It was so heartwarming to see the looks you have for us. I’ll let you know next time we come, and maybe you can plan to lunch at Chuck E. Cheese instead!

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