Writing Prompt: Take a small, boring moment that happened and write as much as you can about it. Go overboard describing it, and make this boring moment exciting.
The fact of being a parent is there is no need to make the most boring part of my day seem exciting — getting that cup of Auntie Anne pretzel nuggets at the mall was the pinnacle of my god damn week. I have a three-year-old boy, a teething baby, and it’s been like one degree outside all month. Going to the mall felt like going to Disney World — there’s a food court, a carousel, and an indoor playground all in one magical development with five anchor stores, two hundred specialty retailers, and all of the fading dreams of the perennially dying shopping mall in America.
We always imagine our Disney World vacations as these magical, flawless experiences, but in reality there’s a two hour wait for the Dumbo ride and you get pink eye from the water on It’s a Small World. Or maybe that was just me. Other people do seem to have perfect Disney vacations. Other people also seem perfectly capable of managing two small children in a shopping mall.
Then there’s me and the wife, who have to set out a military map of all the topographic regions in the mall, take recent images from satellite, and plot out grid coordinates in order to move five feet with two kids.
The plan is to tactically move from the indoor playground, to lunch at the food court, to getting the boy a haircut, then a quick ride on the carousel, and then family tuck and roll out the perpendicular-facing doors on level two out into the parking lot.
After a land battle in the parking lot, we make it to the playground. There are approximately 2000 other families with young children who have also convened, plus that one twelve-year-old who way surpasses the height sign. He’s taking it to one hundred and doing Double Dragon spin kicks down the tiny sliding board structures, triggering all the smaller ones to go even harder.
Instantly, my kid wants to take off his socks, which means he’s either planning to climb Mount Everest or take on Abobo in Double Dragon. I try to convince him to not be that one barefoot kid at the indoor playground, but the baby is starting to fuss, and the wife has already abandoned me to go return pants at The Children’s Place, and I begin to lose ground in the operation.
By the way, the wife returning pants at The Children’s Place is its own side mission, complete with the miniboss retail employee who will ultimately refuse her because she doesn’t have a receipt. The troops are in grave danger.
After a brief fight with getting the socks back on, we attempt to make our way to the food court, but we’re diverted by a temper tantrum over wanting a haircut immediately, nothing else. What kid wants a haircut that bad? Whatever. It’s not like he’s asking to eat a cup full of crushed Butterfinger from Yogurtland or an entire cookie sheetcake from Great American Cookie. Haircut? Fine.
It’s a twenty minute wait at the kids’ haircut joint. This means I get to watch a group of toddlers and pre-schoolers barely navigate sharing from a bin of filthy broken toys that the haircut place has generously provided as entertainment. Dealing with three-year-olds over whose turn it is with the crusty dollar store train is my absolute favorite part of parenting.
The baby is fussing. The wife is still fuming over how she’s going to singlehandedly take down The Children’s Place by writing a letter to the CEO. I go to my safe space. I decide when we finally eat lunch, I’m getting an Auntie Anne pretzel because those things are like butter crack mixed with heaven, Jesus, Santa Claus, puppies, bunnies, and birthday cake with sprinkles.
While the kid gets his haircut, we plot out how to manuever through the mall next — skipping the carousel, avoiding passing the playground again at all costs, finding the elevator for the stroller, and manning our battle stations in line at Auntie Anne’s.
Finally, we make it. I order the cup of pretzel nuggets, and through the skylight in the mall ceiling, I can see the sky open up, a light shine down on me, and a chorus of angelic voices sing. #Inspired #Blessed #Hallucinating.
I also order a cup of strawberry lemonade and the cheese dip. I always order the cheese dip — the hot salsa one, to be specific. I consider people who not order an accompanying dip to be savages.
Eating those delicious pretzel nuggets is the best moment of my day. The best moment of my week. The best moment of the month — because little do I know that within days, an ice storm is coming to the east coast, the kid will test positive for the flu, he’ll be home from school all week with me, and I will come down with the flu myself. It’s war.
A thousand battles, a thousand victories. Sun Tzu. But right now it’s just me and Auntie Anne in the trenches, in the glowing bask of victory.