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Blog: Peculiar Tykes At The Mall

(originally written 1/25/12)

Whenever shopping at Valley Fair or whatever mall I happen to be at/near, I make a point to dump little Josie off in the designated toddler “Playtown” for at least 30-45 minutes (unless oversized 6th-graders are using the Playtown to practice their daredevil acrobat stunts). She gets her needed exercise and a chance to advance her growing social skillz, and I get a chance to check out hot moms still saddled—hopefully permanently—with baby weight.

It is always fun for Josie; she generally has no problems getting along with other kids. But not even my loquacious, adorable little girl could make any inroads with the peculiar group of tykes at play last night.


Throughout the evening, a pretty 6-year-old girl with long, gorgeous pigtails wore some very unpleasant facial expressions for no discernible reason, looking and sounding on the verge of a major tantrum even though she was playing and seemingly having fun like everyone else. It wasn’t until after speaking with her European-accented dad that it made sense—the girl was a boy. This revelation was so farfetched given the kid’s appearance that I honestly thought the guy was kidding (as cruel as that would have been).

He wasn’t.

I GUARANTEE—if 100 people looked at and listened to this kid for a minute or two, all 100 would swear the kid was a she no matter what her father said. I’m aware all cultures differ and perhaps such a look is common for boys where they’re from, but this is America. Just imagine the torment the alleged boy must face being forced to attend school looking like a brunette Baby Spice.

(For the younger set, Baby Spice was ⅕ of the Spice Girls. They were kind of like the Pussycat Dolls of the late 1990's. Check Wikipedia for more; I’m not here to talk about the past.)


Mom and tyke arrived about 20 minutes after I did; estimates place this wobbly, but ambulatory, little girl at about 18-20 months. I’m not sure why, but whenever Josie or any other child came within a foot of her, The Stray Cat fled at warp speed to the safety of her mom. I’d never seen anything like it from any other creature other than stray cats. Kind of hard to enjoy the Playtown experience that way.

The a**hole in me wants her to go through life uncured of this phobia, so that one day I may witness her running away from a cashier at the grocery store (or something along those lines).


This kid’s destiny is organized crime—he’s got the protocol down pat already. Everything—and I do mean everything—he “said” was through tightly pressed lips, as if they’d been welded shut. Including laughter. Mutes, to the best of my knowledge, do not make sounds at all, so don’t come down on me for picking on a disabled kid. If I thought for a second that this was anything other than a kids’ game that dragged on long after everybody else quit playing, Tightlips wouldn’t be mentioned here.

Picture a hostage tied to a chair, trying to speak through duct tape, and you have this kid. Minus the duct tape…and the chair…and the whole hostage part.


Toward the end of our Playtown adventure, an older black guy and his three presumed daughters (ages roughly 2-8) showed up. As his kids began to play, mine began to tire. Soon after I gathered her up and had started re-applying her socks and shoes, I glanced over my left shoulder to see the youngest girl staring at us as sadly as humanly possible. As if to say “I wish I had a daddy to put MY socks and shoes on”…even though hers was seated exactly two feet behind her. Picture any photo slideshow from any sick kid telethon and you have this girl.
For two whole minutes.

Mind you, I had not interacted with this girl at all, and neither had Josie other than sharing the same equipment, so this bizarre act couldn’t have been precipitated by grief over our departure. I cannot even foster a guess as to why this tyke would stop what she was doing just to stare at us leaving. The more time passes, the creepier it gets.

It is cause for concern when my daughter—who earlier in the day engaged her stuffed Homer and Bart Simpson in a makeout session, pulled my own lips from my face and tried to bite them off, and somehow slid my credit card under the Subway Sandwiches sneezeguard and nearly into their chicken—is proven without a doubt to be the most normal child in any setting.

But today she won, hands down.
Her prize: I’ll continue raising her. :)

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