We did not wake Elena up early on Friday; there were no Black Friday deals that we really wanted, although Jenny did brave the cold to get a few small things. We had our fill of shopping before Friday last week.
Jenny scheduled a family portrait session at a nearby Picture People, because she had been pleased with the service and results she got there when they solicited her for a walk-in appointment over the summer. That meant we needed matching clothes, and after reviewing our wardrobes and choosing themes, last Monday we went to a mall that we hadn’t visited before.
We stayed together through the first few stores, but it soon became clear that Elena didn’t have the patience to keep doing that, so Jenny kept shopping while Elena and I did our own thing. She enjoyed watching the child-sized train running through the hallway; when it went by, she said choo-choo and pumped her arm. We looked at the Christmas-themed window decorations at a makeup store. To Elena, the piled-up ornaments were just lots and lots of balls.
At the back of the children’s clothing store where Jenny was shopping we found a big TV set up to entertain children so their moms could shop in peace; we let it draw us in for a few minutes. We watched some parents trying to get pictures of their infants with Santa Claus; it didn’t seem to be working out.
At one store, Elena appeared to be a very sophisticated shopper. She went into a different children’s clothing store, browsed the stuffed animals, then led me right back out. At other store fronts, she noticed pictures of dogs and other animals, and pointed out the colors of the clothes on display.
When we walked by a store that had music playing, we stopped at the entrance to dance. A kiosk saleswoman noticed Elena doing this and gave her a free gift–a little beanbag that can be microwaved to provide heated relief to sore muscles. Emboldened by that success, and after a visit to the animals in the Build-a-Bear workshop, Elena acted extra cute when we walked by the next kiosk, where chocolates were on display. It worked again–the saleswoman gave us a mint chocolate crisp.
Coming around a corner, we spotted an oasis just past the Pillow Pets: the mall playground. Elena joined right in. She went back and forth between running with the big kids, and manning the boat fixture with a little baby. As usual, she got lots of compliments from other parents in the area.
When I called Jenny to let her know where we were, the call went to voice mail, because we had inadvertently brought Jenny’s cell phone in the stroller. She eventually found us, and we talked Elena into leaving the playground. We had one more quick stop on our way out–Jenny found some pennies in her wallet, and we taught Elena to throw them into the fountain, although we’re not sure that she made any wishes.