It was Children’s Day over the weekend and I made the mistake of going to the mall to buy medicines at one of the pharmacies there.
BIG mistake; everywhere, every available space was crawling with kids. First off, there was no parking space, so I had to park on the road. now, that should have been the cue for me to go to GRA or Allen avenue but I was feeling rather lazy.
Me ke? Allen for where? Nah, I will just dash in and dash out.
But it was Children’s Day, like many weekends and public holidays when parents lavish on their children many fun things money can buy. Many do so out of guilt, others, because they want to let the neighbours know they can afford to lounge at the mall, even if for just a selfie with the kids…yeah, we are at the mall, malling, yaayyy! (insert smiley)
So, I walked into the mall and there was a huge circus underway with kids shrieking from pure joy and others from sheer fright either at the mascots or the escalator or fun rides.
I saw mothers juggling popcorn and drinks on one hand and two or more excited kids on the other. I saw a few fathers calling out sternly to their kids to behave properly while they sorted out tickets for a movie or made quick purchases of candy or something else. I saw thoroughly harassed nannies, running to keep up with children who broke free, a few secretly konked the children for bad behaviour before they dragged the errant child to where the rest of the family sat.
There were some parents pulling the mascots one way and another so they could take photos of their kids posing with the mascots. There were face painters, balloons, candy floss, ice creams of different colours and flavours, all screaming for attention and getting more than they can care for…there was food: chips, chicken, rice, popcorn, pastries, shawarma, drinks…
This was money masquerading as fun!
Anyway, I understood all too well, that in a place like this, children can go missing. In a place like this, children can hurt themselves and even break a limb and cause their parents distress, in a place like this, especially when you think you are all having fun and nothing can go wrong, your kid slinks up to you and announces:
Mummy, I want to poopoo!
Poopoo ke! In a public place where you are dammed sure the toilets will be an eye sore…( you doubt me? Oya, go to these mall toilets during festive seasons, the crowd makes it impossible for the cleaners to keep up with the job of keeping the toilets sanitary.)
I have been there and those sights still makes me want to puke.
I made my way upstairs, trying but failing to avoid being knocked over by kids, I was glad I wasn’t the mother chasing after a kid or straining over the din to hear my kid or wishing for the umpteenth time I had chosen a less crowded resort for fun.
I was just glad I was done with that phase of life…for now (until the grandkids tumble in…which is still far…I think).
I remember how, just when you sit back to pat yourself on the back for giving your kids an exhilarating time, one kid bellows above the din-
‘Ma pop cooooorrrn!
‘Ma aizzz krimmmm!
Then you look, lo and behold, the popcorn or ice cream you fought through a horde of other parents to buy at the stand, is strewn all over the floor of the mall and your kid is wailing like a banshee.
In my days as a much younger parent, every free weekend, I made the trip from Ikeja to Funtopia Water park, at Ibeju Lekki, just so I could give my kids something special to remember. I always thought the distance would prevent other parents from visiting…who sai!
Funtopia Water Park was always full, so I became creative. I thought of Apapa Amusement Park…same story. Then we turned Saturdays to swimming days at Water Parks, Ikeja. These too were also full most weekends but the kids always had their fun.
I insist, especially to those lazy brothers and sisters of ours who say there’s no job in town, kiddie business is big business!
Think about it. Parents will spend fortunes on their kids and for their kids; you just need to be more creative with your services and parents will move mountains to get their kids what they consider the best.
Anyway, I managed to plod my way out of the mall, dusting off parts where grubby little fingers had grabbed my dress to steady themselves as they rolled over playmates. I picked off bits of candy stuck under my slippers then I picked up my phone and called my teenagers in school.
It was Children’s Day after all and no matter how old they get, they’ll still be my children.
‘Happy Children’s Day,’ I chanted as soon as the line connected.
‘Hello mom, are you ok?’
‘Yes, I am. Happy Children’s Day,’ I repeated.
‘Ok, mum, is everything ok?’
‘Jesu! So I can’t call to wish you a happy Children’s Day?’
After a long pause, ‘Ok, thank you mum. I thought something was wrong with you.’ He was cautious.
Same response I got from the girl.
‘Are you ok? Are you sure?’
Now they are the ones worrying about me?
Hmm, finally my children are growing o!