Yesterday was Children’s Day and so they all got a school free day. The older ‘kids’ still got to face the normal traffic, hold meetings and do the ‘usual’ Monday routine. A few churches in my neighbourhood paid them tribute on Sunday, when they participated in some activities and some even threw a party and the kids got to have some fun.
Any normal person would have also calculated that all malls, eateries and other public areas would also be off limits as a result of this. It’s the norm that during public holidays traffic and congestion in public places holds true. Yesterday was no different and I got to experience it firsthand! A first for me since I try and avoid such designated areas in order to preserve my sanity. The Ikeja mall was the scene of the crime and I’m sure the same scene played out all over Lagos too.
The queue of cars to get there caused go-slow on major roads and when we eventually got in the first thing we witnessed was a missing child. Lucky for him the lady that found him immediately sought assistance. The sad part was the first mall guard she informed hadn’t a clue what to do and was also not interested in helping. On asking the parking official, we (my friend rather) learned a guard inside the mall would know what to do. The woman found one that unhesitatingly took the child off her hands and assured her he would be re-united with his mom.
With that happy resolution we moved (led more like) on to the next port of call. I forgot to mention that we had in tow a ‘little person’ and would be joined by two more. Anyone with experience in these matters knows that the ratio of three adults to five toddlers is grossly unfair to the adults. Our situation was (thankfully!) not going to be that since the children in question were not too young to run us ragged and old enough to understand incentive or deterrent. We were marched right into Mr. Price to shop…
Our shopping expedition ended when our party was complete. In total four females to two guys. It was hilarious to see the young master say hi, without making any eye contact with the girls. Leaving the shop proved to be the start of Navigation 101. We made it to the candyfloss and popcorn stand despite the toddlers, babies, pre-pubescent, teens, nannies, parents etc all over the place. To top it all a promo geared specially to the children was also in full swing. Watching a movie was definitely not on the cards.
We found an oasis of calm in a restaurant where the sugar consumed finally kicked in. Laughter, singing, big smiles, restiveness, dancing, chattering all made their appearance but well within our power of control. A sugar high in children is something to behold and we got a mild dose…phew! Ensuring the crockery stayed intact, no kicking, food eaten properly etc were some of the duties that ensued from being with the young uns. Fun times and the advantage of watching some drama unfold through glass walls.
Whilst waiting for our order we watched the boy-girl saga play out on the mall floor. Scarves worn by boys were the rage, as were jeans, nerd glasses, short dresses, shorts, inordinately high footwear etc. Some guys just turned up solo and were clearly there to meet a girl. When they saw one they liked, they moved in for the kill. As usual girls were hardly alone and walked about confidently.
The ‘mall culture’ is apparently here to stay and it’s pretty sad that these and quick service restaurants are the places we can either go or take family when public holidays arise. The youngsters have fun no doubt but it certainly says a lot about our ‘quality of life’ in the 21st century. Wide open spaces, amusement parks and the like are relics and some of us recall them with nostalgia. Another public holiday looms tomorrow and once more jam-packed will be an understatement for these spaces…