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Monday, August 25, 2008

The Mosh Pit

We went to the mall on Saturday.

That really ought to be the end of this post. And the end of this blog, actually, because it's amazing that anyone makes it out of the mall alive. Add a teething toddler to the normal stew of high-pressure booth salesgirls, cellphone asshats, and everyone else's screaming children and I'm pretty sure what you get is nitroglycerine.

But, give this guy a Klondike bar: I went to the mall and did not have my head explode or lose my child (accidentally or on purpose...oh, Teddy Bear Taxidermy Factory, you were so close to adding another child to your collection).

Emily wanted to buy some things. Knowing that taking Erin while Emily bought some things for herself might inspire her to buy some things for herself that were actually for myself (bow chicka wow wow, as they say), I plopped Erin down in the Mosh Pit and awaited my reward.

The Mosh Pit. It's real name is Playtown, down at the Valley Fair Mall in San Jose. It is a large rubberized wrestling mat surrounded by soft benches for the bloodthirsty fans parents to sit on while their children enjoy the ramps, tunnels, cars, wall toys, mirrors, and, in Erin's case, the escape route to the Lego Store. I call it the Mosh Pit because in large part the entertainment for the kids consisted in running as fast as possible, hurdling the toys they were supposed to be playing on, and running into one another. Little pre-schooler bodies were flying everywhere.

While we were there Erin met a little boy who, I'm sad to say, creeped me right the hell out. He was about four years old, and was so in love with my little sixteen month old that he was following her around the entire Mosh Pit for what seemed like an hour. And he was grabbing at her, constantly. Hugging her, holding her arm, trying to soft-tackle her, and at one point he put her in a head lock and I almost narded him. I kept looking around to see who his parents were, but the Mosh Pit is pretty much a nanny zone, and few of them were watching the kids play anyway, so I had no idea who was watching him. Lucky for him, Erin outmaneuvered him repeatedly so I didn't have to sit down and have a long talk with this future date-rapist (harsh, I know, but you should have seen this kid).

Erin also met the Acrobatic Mooch. I succumbed and quartered up my lone five dollar bill and I set Erin a-rockin' in the various drugstore rides that surrounded the Mosh Pit. Her favourite was the Storyteller Truck. It was my least favourite. Not because it was annoying or didn't do it's job, but because there was this six-year-old boy who, whenever I would load the truck up with quarters, would swing in the back window and press all the buttons while Erin was relegated to the role of chauffeur. When the ride was over he would swing back out of the window and sit on top of the truck, waiting for some other sucker to come along so he could skep a free ride. Again, I've no idea who his parents were.

I was in no doubt about the parentage of the little girl who was hovering next to the Taxi ride while Erin was groovin' it. This little wannabe-mooch was waiting for her chance to jump in the Taxi, but Erin, clever girl that she is, was taking up both seats and driving with two steering wheels and she just wasn't leaving any room for the wannabe. I had already suffered through two rounds of "Calm down, dude. It's just a kid. Do not haul him out of the truck by his ears and tell him to beg a quarter off his nanny," and I didn't have a whole lot of patience left for this girl. But I was absolutely floored by her father, standing in front of the Taxi ride, egging her on to jump in the ride. Admittedly, I don't speak whatever language he was speaking (not English, not Spanish, not French, something Middle Eastern), but the tone of voice and the gestures to the Taxi spoke volumes. Little Acrobatic Moochers with nannies who are busy talking to other nannies are one thing. A father encouraging his daughter to push another little girl out of the way so he doesn't have to drop the three quarters to power up the Taxi is unacceptable.

But, as with the littlest Date Rapist, Erin's skillz obviated any need for me to punch a dude in the balls for being an asshat. She just calmly steered that Taxi as though she were behind on fares for the day and looking to make it up in tips, and the ride ended before the wannabe could succumb to her father's pressure to turn her into a mooch.

Harsh, right? A nice guy would have shifted Erin over and said "Hey, little girl, why don't you enjoy this here ride with my daughter. She doesn't mind, and it doesn't cost her or me anything to let you do it." But this probably wasn't the first time, nor will it be the last time, that the little girl loses out because her father has no class. I'm sorry that I didn't take the highest road, but at least I didn't take a swing at him.

I'm still waiting for that Klondike bar.


I'm guest-posting today over at the Redneck Mommy. Even though I am neither a redneck nor a mommy. Go check it out. You'll learn all about why you shouldn't raise children in the sticks, just like you've learned here why you shouldn't raise kids in the suburbs.


Anonymous said...

The rides at our local shopping centre / mall cost $2 each and are usually made to seat at least 2-3 children. I usually nab a spare child to share the ride with my girls if there is a spare seat. figure if I am going to fork out $2 for the ride I want ALL those seats full.

Hate with a passion people who live their kids unsupervised in shopping centre playgrounds. Apparently this is old fashioned of me. I'm happy to be old fashioned.

Hope Erin got something for you whilst she was shopping :grin:

Melissa in TN said...

Great post :) I'm throwing my panties in! Hope "granniepanties" are okay.

secret agent mama said...

Oh My God, I'm dying over here. Thanks for the early morning laughs. You don't know how much I needed them.

Whirlwind said...

Luckily, we managed to avoid most of those rides. I say most, because Moe has discovered a set at a new store. Luckily for me, I usually don't have any cash on me, so thats usually an acceptable excuse.

But that's harsh, having a father encourage his daughter to jump in. That poor child!uqpr

Will said...

Dude, never the balls. Going for the balls is the first sign of an unimaginative mind. It so, junior high. You've got to think better than that. You've got to think incapacitation without the possibility of retaliation. Kneecaps dude. Kneecaps.

From the sounds of things of late, Little E should be teaching her daddy a few things.

Seriously great tale though

Jenni said...

First, I pretty sure I've been to playland, when Oscar and I were in CA last month. My friend's three-year-old loved it, but Oscar wasn't walking and I was afraid he'd get creamed so he had to watch. I was kind of disturbed by the fact there were clearly some kids significantly older than the age/height limit for the play area.

And, I would have probably let the little girl share the taxi, but I would have been thinking the same thing as you.

Mandy said...

Lesson one: Don't go to the mall.

Lesson two: If you must go to the mall, wear body armour and bring hand sanitizer.

Lesson three: Don't go to the mall.

Lesson four: If you must to the mall, DON'T TAKE ANY CHANGE for the machines.

Lesson five: Don't go to the mall.

Wendy said...

You're such a better parent than me. I would've totally stepped in and told the boy to keep his grubby little hands off my daughter, told the Moocher girl and her dad to f*ck off, and probably would've been thrown out of the mall. Which really would've been fine with me. I hate the mall!

Anonymous said...

I'm takin' my shoes off right now... I'm gettin' ready for some SMACKDOWN!
Some people shouldn't be allowed to have children- especially the ones that have no idea where their children are. Date Rapist's parents were probably enjoying a cling-free afternoon and didn't even notice he was assaulting your daughter.

for a different kind of girl said...

Dude, I WORK in a mall and I don't go out there. That place is a layer of hell I can't even crawl out of. Oh, and we're so suburban that they don't even call it a mall. No. It is a Towne Center. Damn right you better put that useless 'e' at the end of the perfectly acceptable stand alone 'town'.

I've learned this lesson of which you speak after a year in the kid's department at the bookstore, and after a few 'What the hell, dude?!' trips to the towne center's (See? It just sounds classier!) mosh pit. It's totally Fight Club (minus that sexy Brad Pitt and that delightful Edward Norton) down there. Also, I fear coming away diseased. You totally deserve a box of Klondike. Here you go (pretend I just handed you one). Enjoy!

(also? totally awesome!)

Redneck Mommy said...

Laughing at the mental image of you wanting to nard a FOUR YEAR OLD BOY.

You make over-protective daddies everywhere proud.

What I would pay to be a fly on the wall when Erin brings home her first real boyfriend.


Aunt Becky said...

Nice work not punching a kid in the face. Because seriously, every time I go to the mall, the urge overtakes me.

Undomestic Diva said...

I effing HATE the Teddy Bear Taxidermy Factory. I think PETA should do something about it. That and Chuck E Cheese. Last I heard, having a giant rat running around a restaurant is bad.

Miss Grace said...

In fairness, Valley Fair is like the biggest, scariest mall in all of Christendom. Also, The Mosh Pit is obnoxiously strategically located next to all of the kid-friendly toy stores (teddy bear taxidermy included).
Malls make me incredibly claustrophobic, and my only panic attacks have occurred while searching desperately for the exit to the open air, convinced that I was slated to die in the food court.

Miss Grace said...

Oh and also, the last time I was at Valley Fair, Gabe was just sitting on the merry-go-round ride, which I think seats three, but I wasn't ponying up any quarters, and he was happy just to sit there, and this lady came over to pay for her daughter to ride, and Gabe got a free ride too (I felt zero guilt) and then her daughter wanted to ride AGAIN, and the lady asked me if I, "Wanted to get this one since my kid just got a free ride." Um, no thanks! Since my child was just sitting on a horse. I guess you could have asked him to get off so your kid could have all four horses to herself, and I would've, but both ways I think you're a bitch. That's just me.

Assertagirl said...

Erin's mad boy-wranglin' skillz sound impressive. She's off to a good start.

(Also? The Lego store is KICKASS. We don't have 'em here, and I went into the one at Hillsdale Shopping Center when I was in town and loved it.)

Anonymous said...

I'm going to have to jump in with Redneck Mommy on the future dating. I want to be there the first time a guy rests his hand on her thigh as he talks to you. And then I want to be there when you explain to the coroner exactly what happened.

anna said...

Clever girl! You must have been beaming with pride that she could already handle the wannabe moochers by herself!

Miss Britt said...

Do you ever notice it's mostly dads feeding the quarters into those machines?

I know it's like that with us.

The mom is the one walking by saying "um, no, come on, let's go."

Cece said...

I never thought I'd see the day when I say this: I hate the mall.

I use to love it but now being a parent I really hate it. The unsupervised kids (small & teenaged) drive me NUTS! If I have to go I'll give up my lunch hour at work and do it then when its only old people & SAHM's who venture out once a week.

Jenn said...

You have so much more control than me. I would have told the kid that kept going in the back of the ride to get out that this was for my daughter to enjoy right now. I have yet to master the higher road thing. I pay the money for my kid (of which I have none) to play on a ride then she will get to fully enjoy the ride not some flippin mooch who needs to given a solid talking to.

just bob said...

I live in San Jose too. As a single guy, I avoid "Playtown" at that mall at all costs.

just bob said...

I live in San Jose too. As a single guy, I avoid "Playtown" at that mall at all costs.

MadWoman said...

"....and I almost narded him."

That just finished me off.

This is precisely why I am so glad to be past the mosh pit age and on to the "totally unsupervised in the park" age.The park is so much bigger and no one will notice if I kick their little miscreant in the ass for pushing my spawnlet out of the way. No one is ever supervising but me anyway. Cos I'm perfect dontcha know.

Jerri Ann said...

The only thing worse than all those Nanny's siting around chatting with each other are the ones who come up to you as you watch your OWN child play and say, "hey, you don't know if his mom is looking for a nanny do you?" and you reply, "erm, no, I'm not" and she says, "oh, you are his mother?" and I reply "last damn time I checked" and she mumbles something about grandmothers and walks away...oh yea, someone is gonna get punched!

T. said...

I would think you were a cheap jerk, except if the same kinds of kids hang out in your mall play area that hang out in ours, I completely get it.

I had one little terror try to knock my little daughter out of the ride, with me standing right there! Yes, I almost knocked him out. Of course, he was unsupervised, dammit.

My loathing for the mall play area is equal only to my loathing of the Disney Store, full of cheap, bright Chinese crap. Hate it.

I only venture to the mall if it is has an Apple Store, and then I escape.


Always Home and Uncool said...

Those Mosh Pit rides are such a rip!

Jeremy (Discovering Dad) said...

They should make all of those rides with room for 8 or something. It always causes drama with kids wanting to jump on and parents/nannies trying to keep up. I hate situations that piss me off around other kids' parents - it should be fun all the time right? It's the rides fault.

Anonymous said...

cellphone asshats, and everyone else's screaming children
future date-rapist
bloodthirsty fans parents
something Middle Eastern
Acrobatic Mooch
littlest Date Rapist,

Wow...a tad racist and angry dad it appears.
You need to chill sir!
Men like you make me glad to be a single parent

califmom said...

That right there is why I love online shopping. I was a major mall rat, pre-kids. Now, I can't stand the place. I develop a twitch every time I have to go there.

califmom said...

BTW, the key is to teach your daughter to go for the balls. That way, all you have to do is high-five her and fake an apology for the parents, should they decide to show up.

Dana said...

And behavior like "Anon's" make me wonder why they're single in the first place. Perhaps the raging over-analyzation?

You reacted like every other normal and honest parent. Kids shouldn't mooch rides on other people's change unless invited. It also wasn't incumbent upon you to extend an invitation. If parents don't model manners then their children will never learn.

Maura said...

Ah, the righteous indignation of the Anonymous commenter.

It's commenters like you who make me glad to be unafraid to leave a name.

I avoid that area of Valley Fair whenever possible because of the out-of-control kids. And it's a shame because it's always so sweet to see little kids like yours enjoying the rides and such, but there's always some unsupervised brat to spoil the fun and it annoys me. And that's to someone who doesn't even have kids, so I can only imagine how it feels for you to have to stand there and watch it.

Whit said...

What's up with that anonymous comment? That person thinks it's okay to ignore your kids and let them pester others?

They might be glad they're single, but I bet their kid isn't.

Anonymous said...

Well, THIS single parent thought it was hilarious, because I've SO been there.

And LOL at Undomestic Diva -- if you ask my 4 yo where the two best places on earth are, she'd say Build A Bear and Chuck E Cheese. Apparently, some of the kids at preschool went there on vacation, and now they're the coolest places EVER.

Thankfully, we don't have either in our state.

Karen said...

Dear Anonymous,

Good thing you chose not to identify yourself. Backpacking Dad is the best dad EVER (besides my kid's dad of course) and had you been brave enough to identify yourself, I have a feeling you may have heard from *ahem* "a few" people who beg to differ!

Love, Peckedbyducks

motherbumper said...

I love how anon told you to chill because it takes balls to say "chill" to someone when behind the mask of anon. Lots of balls. Oh wait.. NO IT DOESN'T - it means you don't have any backbone. That's it.

Anyhow, you said "going to the mall" and I said "NOT ON MY LIFE". The end.

sweetney said...

your anon commenter doesn't like descriptive terms. how is it racist to call someone who is middle eastern middle eastern?

i am, by the way, scottish/irish. OH MY GOD I JUST GOT RACIST ON MYSELF. give me a fucking break.

Tootsie Farklepants said...

I have never ever been in the "Toddler Town" in our mall. I just don't think I'd make it out of there without becoming a felon.

imaginary binky said...

You've officially guaranteed that I will never take Amos on one of those rides while other kids (and their neglectful parents) are around. It's one thing for a kid to do that when they haven't yet learned about sharing or taking turns (or carefully ignored the lesson), but it's entirely another when you have a pushy parent egging a kid to mooch a ride.

Also, Anonymous? You give single parents a bad name. Loosen up and get a sense of humor.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonywimp,
Next time, do yourself a favor and leave your name and url... that way we can all hop on over to your blog and leave idiotic comments.

Mom101 said...

You make me wish I were a single parent. That way I could date you and have another etiquette bitch (bastard?) at my side.

The asshat parents of the world raise asshat kids. If only they knew it.

T. said...

Ah, anonymous posters. Drive-thru, leave their Supersize Snottiness and then move on to some other blog.

Clearly, anonymous has no idea what he/she is talking about... and doesn't trust their observations enough to leave a name. Perhaps comments such is this is why anonymous is single?

If you are bold enough to say it, be bold enough to sign it.


And there are a a LOT of cell-phone asshats, screaming children and Middle eastern fathers out there... present almost everywhere I go.

backpackingdad's overprotectiveness is cute.

Backpacking Dad said...

leechbabe: I'm old fashioned too. I remember when those suckers were a quarter. Of course, they didn't have monitors that helped simulate the driving experience, just parents blowing their kids' hair around to make it seem outdoorsy.

melissa in tn: well thanks :}

secret agent mama: I hope you feel better.

whirlwind: yeah, next time I'm going to be magically out of cash.

will: I'll remember the kneecaps

jenni: yeah, I was really pissed about the older kids there too.

mandy: so, go to the mall?

wendy: me too.

browerfamilyof5: word.

FADKOG: extraneous "e's" rock my world.

redneck mommy: the boys had better cover up.

aunt becky: I'll be checking the police blotter.

undomestic diva: seriously. and what the hell is he smiling about all the time?

miss grace: I'm sure I've been to a bigger clustf*ck before, but I can't think of one offhand.

assertagirl: Hillsdale is much more sensible than Valley Fair.

insta-mom: the first time will be the last time.

anna: I'm pretty proud of that kid.

miss britt: dads are suckers

cece: yeah, I shouldn't have tried to go on a weekend.

jenn: I could have used you there :}

just bob: I think everyone is happy about you, as a single guy, avoiding Playtown :} :} Laughing so hard.

madwoman: I can't wait.

jerri ann: but why would they walk up to someone who they presume is the nanny of the child and ask if that nanny's employer is looking to replace her?

t: oh, but I am a cheap jerk :}

always home and uncool: I know! "Back in my day...."

jeremy (discovering dad): I think I can agree with that. Although the Storyteller Truck was way cooler than any lame pony ride I went on at the mall when I was a kid.

anonymous: well, in my defense I'm an asshole. What's your excuse?

califmom: brilliant!

dana: that is exactly right. although I probably deserve a little chewing out for not extending an invitation. But I'm going to plead "first time on the damn rides, trying to make it a special moment!!!"

maura: next time I'm bringing earmuffs

whit: word.

mommypie: what? they did like a class trip to Chuck E. Cheese? That's like sending the kids home with a gun and instructions to try to shoot their parents in the head.

karen: thank you.

motherbumper: the only mall I know of in Ottawa was a strip mall that had a Mac's Milk in Becker's Corners.

Sweetney: maybe it's racist if I say that you are speaking a language that I'm pretty sure is Northwestern European and North American.

tootsie farklepants: Toddler Town sounds like "get kicked in kneecaps village"

imaginary binky: Amos looks awesome. I'm sure he could take an Acrobatic Mooch anyday.

browerfamilyof5: thank you :}

mom101: and we could go around handing people trash they've thrown away and bitching them out for parking their SUVs in 4 spaces. I'm pretty sure that I'd have to be single too for that to work though :} Or my wife would have to be very understanding....;}

Jenny, the Bloggess said...

If you're marrying Mom 101 I want in too. Perhaps start up a commune. And none of us will share the rides with anyone. It'll be the uncommune-commune.

It'll be awesome.

Ms. Single Mama said...

Ummmm.... dads like you make me wish I weren't a single parent.

For the record.

VDog said...

Oddly enough, you've made me strangely excited to attempt the Mosh Pit ourselves.


Writer Dad said...

Two things I want in a blog: Good writing and a smile. Check and check. Thanks, I just subscribed.