Pay To Play
In the middle of an Ohio winter, it's easy to get a little stir-crazy. We try to get out of the house as often as we can, and for our family, that sometimes means going to the mall to let the kids run loose at the mall play area.
Before you say it: yes, I know the mall play area is a petri dish filled with kid germs. But sometimes a mom needs thirty minutes of sanity, even if those thirty minutes are sitting on the sidelines of a Lord of the Flies re-enactment.
Last weekend we went to the mall, and my husband agreed to take first watch in the play area so I could do a little shopping. When I came back, I could tell something was wrong by the look on his face.
"What happened?" I asked. "Did one the girls get bullied?"
"Look around and tell me what you see," he responded.
I had yet to really look at the activity in the play area. Glancing across the sea of children, I noticed about 15 balloon swords, 10 balloon flowers, and 5 balloon dogs on balloon leashes. That's a lot of balloons for a small play area. Standing right in the middle of the play area was a man inflating balloons with a pump and twisting them into various shapes, while a hoard of small children crowded around him.
"The balloon guy? What's so wrong with that?" I asked.
"He's only making balloons for those who give him money." As I glanced back at the colorfully dressed man, I now noticed that many of the children were waving $1 bills in his direction, each trying to buy their very own balloon sword or animal.
"And we have no cash on us, right?" I knew the answer to that question before I asked it. I rarely carry cash, because it's easier to track my spending through my debit card. It was also confirmed by seeing my two-year-old's curly head in the crowd of children. She was front and center, ready to get her balloon, but she was completely ignored by the man because she had nothing to pay him. I could see the frustration and confusion on her face as he reached past her to take dollar bills from other kids and hand them their balloons.Continued on the next page