Jana Mathews: Forget the Resurrection and where babies come from -- one of the hardest concepts for my kids (6-year-old girl and 5-year-old twin boys) to grasp is why their favorite clothing store sells soccer balls ... and why they aren't allowed to play with them.
An increasing number of retail clothing stores in the U.S. are going the way of chain restaurants and advertising themselves as "family friendly." While providing coloring tables, toy boxes, and television sets to shoppers' children may boost sales, blurring the line between place of business and indoor playground can quickly backfire ... as one store learned from my family's recent visit.
"Don't even think about it!" I barked as one of my boys reached into one of the several bins of sports balls that were scattered inexplicably throughout the store (for privacy reasons, the name of the store shall remain nameless, but by way of a clue, it shares its name with a branch of the U.S. Military).
My sons exercised considerable self-restraint and managed to keep their hands off of the balls located next to the toddler cargo shorts and women's swimsuits. By the time we made our way to the front of the store -- where an even bigger bin of balls awaited us -- my threats and warnings had begun to wear thin. While I paid for my purchases, one of my boys decided that it was just as good a time as any to practice his field goal kicks.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the ball whiz over my head and across the storefront. The ball made a perfect arc over the display of women's tank tops, meeting resistance only when it reached a plastic manikin wearing sunglasses and carrying a floral beach tote. As the manikin and the table of beach-themed T-shirts she was pointing to toppled to the ground with a loud thud, my son yelled, "SCORE!"
I opened my mouth to say something meaningful, if not apologetic, but strangely, nothing came out. As it turned out, the store manager had more than enough to say for both of us.
"Little boy!" she screeched. "Those balls are not for kicking!"
I saw the woman's point, but suddenly, for the first time, also my son's. In a rare moment of generosity, I sided with my offspring. Turning to the manager, I found my words.
"What exactly are they for then?" I asked.
|Jana Mathews is the mother of "four under five" and the author of The Meanest Mom blog.|