Tonight, the boys and I headed over to the mall for dinner in the food court, as part of a school event. We had a relaxing meal with friends, then made our way to the book store for story time with the teachers. Both kids enjoyed their leisurely strolls up and down the aisles in the children’s section of the store, eventually choosing a couple of titles to take home. (I mean, they were excited over books. BOOKS! And, it benefited the school. How could I say no to that?!? Well played, school.)
Once I finally convinced the boys that it was time to leave, we attempted to make an exit from the mall, but we were sucked into a new store. Mesmerized by the glowing basketball in the shiny new Dick’s Sporting Goods sign, the kids made a beeline into the tidy rows of athletic wear. Alex declared that he was looking for a new basketball, and then told me I could buy it for him.
Enter teachable moment. Or so I thought…
After finding a ball he liked (a nice Under Armour basketball), Al started making his way to the check out. “Hang on there, dude. I am not buying a new basketball for you tonight. It’s nice, but we’ll have to get it another day. Let’s put it back.”
“Nope,” came his quick reply. “I’ll buy it with my own monies.”
I sighed. Loudly. It had been a long day, and it wasn’t over yet. “How about we tell Santa?”, I almost-too-desperately called after him. He stopped. Score!!
“Yes. Let’s take a picture and email it to Santa!” Alex was elated. I thought of the cute blog post I could whip up after the kids fell asleep tonight. Win win, right?
We snapped the photo, and I again asked him to put the ball away. “Nope. I gotta give it to a guy.”
Here we go. I was just plain exasperated at this point. I was losing this battle. I figured I should just hear him out and let him give the stinking ball back to someone who worked there, and decided to chalk it up as an opportunity to practice social skills.
He marched right up to a sales associate, and no sooner than the guy said “Hey, buddy!” did Al hold that ball out and say “I want this for Christmas. Will you tell Santa?”
Up went my left eyebrow, and I frantically looked up at the sales guy. His reaction was going to make an important impression on Alex. Please don’t blow this, Mr Sales Guy.
“I will tell Santa!! I will go call him right now!” The guy didn’t miss a beat. Al beamed. I let out the breath that I didn’t realize I was holding until then.
I suggested, for the third time, that Alex put the ball back on its shelf. As he triumphantly marched away, I looked at the sales guy and said “Thanks! I appreciate your response to him,” and turned to watch Al make his way back towards me.
Later, after finally dragging them out of the mall, Alex and I were waiting while Andrew got his hair cut. Al was flipping through the photos on my phone, and stopped on the picture we had just taken earlier, with the basketball.
“How cool is it that the guy called Santa to tell him about this ball?!?” Apparently, I thought it was way cooler than Al did, because he quickly responded.
“Nah. He was faking it.”
I let that statement fall flat, which took a lot of effort, because I guess I’m not ready for Alex to let go of Santa quite yet. It could easily happen at this point, for any of my kids, as they are all getting older. Too old, and too smart, for their own good.
Whether he truly still believes or not, I really do appreciate the sales guy (Tommy, at the Polaris store, if anyone local is wondering) for his quick thinking and cooperation. There aren’t many that would have played along, but he did, and that was very cool.
And yes, I will go back for the ball, so that Santa really can leave it under our tree for Alex…