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I made a giant parenting error yesterday. I decided that since it had been months since I’d gone clothes shopping in the physical (ie, not online) world, just maybe, perhaps, possibly I could pack up my 20-month-old and take him downtown for an hour or two to return some stuff and inevitably pick up some cute Baby Gap gear for him, which is what I do because I have nothing else in this life. (Kidding! Kind of). Seriously, though – I knew what I was proposing (30 minutes in the car, more time in the stroller while we tore through a couple of stores, a quick dinner at the mall, and 30 minutes to get home) was going to be at the very least boring, and at the worst, torture, for my kid, but we’re talking one afternoon. Surely I could handle that. Surely so could he. Right?

Extremely, astoundingly wrong. Kiddo was a champ during the car ride (we would have taken public transport, which is both of our preferred method of getting around, but our temporary digs aren’t close to the MUNI so that will have to wait until we move back home). Kiddo was a trouper playing along with my “look, a button!” game as we sought out every elevator we could find so that Mommy could keep Baby safely restrained in his stroller. But after about 45 minutes in what I’m sure he calls his “straightjacket” when he’s talking to his other toddler friends and his stuffed Elmo, MY KID COMPLETELY LOST IT. He made it clear he would not stand for another second in his baby jail contraption, so I decided it was time to let him “down.” And whatever you’re imagining, it was worse: the second I started unstrapping him, it was like he’d been imprisoned for decades and was finally getting freed by his evil Smurf dude captor. He wasn’t angry, he was just HIGH ON LIFE. I’m not quite sure I’ver ever seen him so impressively wild.

I let him down from the stroller JUST as I was paying for an item. Biiiiiig mistake. He went completely apeshit. Yanking, pulling, pushing his stroller down, grabbing the wheels, howling, and basically treating the world like a personal punching bag-slash-button factory. At one point I had to physically drag him away from behind the cashier’s desk, where he was exploring and discovering all kinds of exciting stuff, which personally I can’t blame him for, I mean I’ve always wanted to know what’s back there, too.

Once we got out to the sidewalk, he started putting on a show for all of the passersby, who definitely thought we were nutso, which is odd because don’t any of those people have kids? I hear constantly about overpopulation, and yet people on the street always stare at us like we’re an endangered species. It took every muscle in my body to pick up his flailing little body and drag him inside the mall, which I figured was a better venue for his shenanigans than a filthy sidewalk. I looked around desperately for some sort of toy store but only found Hello Kitty, which did not meet my requirements (I needed a store with some trucks, perhaps a train set on display. Not cat backpacks, thanks).

Finally, we made it downstairs to the food court and ordered burgers. I dragged him to the family bathroom to wash his hands, and – lo and behold! – found TOYS. IN THE BATHROOM. AT THE MALL. ATTACHED TO THE WALL. I couldn’t believe I’d finally found a kid-friendly place for him to get out his energy, and it was a PUBLIC BATHROOM. “No, I’m not taking my kid to the playground today. Let’s just go to the bathroom.” I’ll do it. Don’t put it past me.

After that, we enjoyed a relatively calm dinner of burgers, fries, and orange juice. We made it home in one piece. And I made a mental note to never take my kid shopping again because it’s a terrible idea. Which of course I knew originally but chose to ignore. Oh well. At least I got him a cute bowler hat he doesn’t need.

Have you taken your kiddos on age-inappropriate outings? Have they ever acted like tiny little fugitives? xox