Leaving Iowa behind, all my kids could talk about was the Mall of America. How big was so big, that it's the biggest in the country is what we all wanted to know. As we drove up, it looked pretty huge, but not bigger than some of the other humongous malls we've seen. By the grace of G-d we found an unbelievably close parking space and made our way to the doors right under the big red white and blue star.
Once inside, our jaws dropped...yeah this was BIG-we found ourselves staring at 3 huge levels of every kind of store you could think of with a huge amusement park plunked right in the middle. Mind you, I am not talking little kiddie rides in the corner here, I am talking full on amusement park. The kids squealed with delight and of course we headed right to the ticket office to get everyone a wrist band-after hours in the car they most certainly deserved to get a little crazy. They rode the blast-o-sphere, some little helicopter contraption, the roller coaster and the log ride-yep I said log ride, right in the mall-how crazy is that? Well, I guess when you experience Minnesota winters maybe it's not all that crazy after all.
I grabbed a seat and let them have at it till they were over it and then we walked around looking for a good snack. The first thing we'd noticed that we'd never seen before was a Nestle Toll House Cookie store. Fresh baked chocolate chip cookies-who can say no to that. Lilia saw a crepe stand and so I let her indulge in one of her favorite things in life, a freshly made Nutella crepe.
The Mall of America is a cool place to visit, but it wasn't somewhere we wanted to spend a huge amount of time. Seeing the enormous mall just reinforced my feeling that folks spend too much time in places like this and not enough getting out on the road exploring their own backyard. Sure it's easy to go to the mall, cut your kids loose leaving everyone to go in their own direction and wander around shopping and eating. Sadly, this what too many families consider an outing. It's a bit more of a challenge to plan a trip, head out on the road and discover what else lies beyond the horizon of the shopping mall. Nothing good comes without effort, and I can tell you from loads of experience that every effort you make to get out and engage with your kids, seeing and learning together, will be handsomely rewarded by a stronger and more open relationship, lasting memories, and a bond that will last a lifetime.