How to Make Shopping in the Mall with Grandchildren of All Ages and Sexes a Pleasurable Experience

MallWhen our daughters were small, they hated going shopping with me.  It was a chore for them to accompany me, even if it was for clothing for them.  Even toy shopping was met with groans and complaints that I did not need them with me when I had a list.  I was surprised, as I then expected them to enjoy shopping as much as I did.  After all, they were girls and this was the early 1980’s when shopping was a woman’s job.  Even though I was a professional working woman with little free time, shopping was an enjoyable avocation for me.  Mall walking was also an acceptable form of exercise, when going the gym was not yet in vogue. But, because I was a working mother, I was loath to leave the children on the weekend to shop, the only extended time for “quality” time per week I had to spend with the children.

Then, I had an idea.  I knew I had to make going shopping with mother a game.  I told the children that we were going to search for the ugliest thing in the mall and see who would win the contest.  This Grandma originally thought it would expand the time we needed to spend and would make it difficult to actually shop, however, it turned out the game worked better than I anticipated.  The game expanded through the increasing ages, interests, and ingenuity of our daughters to try to find more and more ways to describe the ugliest items in elaborate and detailed flattering terms.  What surprised us was how much ugly there was to describe!

My daughters and I laugh about one specific experience still.  We remember the one incident where we stood in the entryway of an exclusive designer store before a mannequin draped in a full length sequined mermaid evening dress in swirls of chartreuse, emerald green, and bright orange with more sequins and feathers of those colors flared out around the bottom third.  All three of us exuberantly commented favorably upon every aspect of the dress, louder and louder, each trying to outdo each other with the praise we heaped on this monstrosity.  We gathered an audience of two well dressed middle aged women who started staring at the dress.  Of course, it just gave us more impetus to continue to compliment the dress.  Within minutes, one woman turned to the other and said that she must try on this gorgeous dress, and they proceeded into the store.  After they were out of earshot, the three of us proceeded to laugh hysterically.

Now, I use the same game with the grandchildren.  We love looking for the ugliest item in the mall.  It is so much fun.  Yes, there is still so much ugly to find and compliment.  That is how I found out that my professional working daughters continue this family ritual with their children.  Yes, the grandchildren shared the secret with me.  We all want to repeat the experience above my daughters and I shared and now have shared with the grandchildren.  All of us cannot wait for someone again to be convinced that our ugly is their beautiful.

This grandmother has only one granddaughter, who also hates shopping.  But, soon to have five grandsons, I have found one grandson who loves shopping.  Unlike with the other grandchildren, I do not even have to bribe him with the game to go to the mall anymore.  He is ready and willing to shop at any time.  I adore that he is an expert at the game of searching for the ugliest item and is getting proficient at describing ugly in the most elaborate flattering terms.

Thus, during this holiday season, when we try to get our grandchildren away from electronics for a time, even if it is only to get to a mall for holiday shopping, try the game.  It also works in the supermarket with unappetizing food choices, although offering to buy a box of cookies of grandchildren’s choice works even better.  I clearly have learned that an enjoyable shopping search for ugly spans all ages and sexes. It might turn into a ritual for your family too.  And, at the least, we grandparents get to mall walk for exercise, so long as any malls remain!

Happy Holidays!





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