We all piled into the truck this morning for a trip to the mall – me, three cousins, Aunt Kim, and three next door neighbors. Before I could say, “Wow, I’ve never been to the mall with this many people before”, we split up into three groups – Kristin and her friend, Aunt Kim and the neighbors’ mom, and me and the three youngest girls.

I followed Courtney, Sammy, Amy as they ran (literally) to Hot Topic. Perhaps the last thing you would expect to hear in Hot Topic is three girls shrieking, “Let’s go build a bear!”, but I guess anything is possible. I pleaded with them to buy CDs or something instead, but they insisted on paying the Build-A-Bear Workshop a visit.

As we walked toward Build-A-Bear, I tried to ignore their attempts to go up the down escalators and down the up ones. Once we reached Build-A-Bear, the girls couldn’t afford to make bears anyway. I consoled them and let them know that we still had 35 minutes left for them to waste their money on something else. We ended up in the candy store instead where Sammy purchased two Beanie Babies and Courtney bought two packs of bubblegum cigarettes, a bubblegum cigar, and a bubblegum yardstick. Yes, a bubblegum yardstick.

We proceeded to consume the bubblegum yardstick as we headed back towards the food court to meet up with everyone else. I lagged behind a little, blowing bubbles, wondering when the last time I had a real piece of bubblegum was – real bubblegum, not the sugarfree crap. It must have been years ago when we used to buy BubbleTape from the ice cream man and play street hockey with the empty containers.

I contemplated intervening when they started wacking each other in the head with the three foot box that the bubblegum came in. A grumpy old woman took care of that for me though – when they started hitting each other while walking down an up escalator. “You girls better stop that. I’ll tell the guards on you.” Bitch. I wondered why I hadn’t thought of that threat.

When we met back up with my aunt, Sammy threw a small fit about the bear (which I missed because I was busy removing the remnants of a large bubble from my face) resulting in $100 being handed off to me to take the girls back to the Build-A-Bear place. Great. So, we trekked all the way back to Build-A-Bear while I explained that they were only allowed to spend $20 each on a bear. I could swear they nodded in agreement, but I guess Sammy forgot by the time we arrived back at the store.

Here is what followed between Sammy and I:

“How about this puppy? I want this one.”

“Sammy, that puppy is $18. If you get it, you won’t be able buy any outfits for it.”

“Why not?”

“Because you have $20 to spend.”

“No, you have a hundred.”

“Right, but your mom said $20 each.”

“She won’t care.”

“Sammy, just get the $10 bear like you said you were going to. Please?”

“How about this cat bear?”

“It’s a leopard. It’s $25, kiddo. You can’t do it.”

“I can. You have a hundred. My mom would let me.”

“Give it to me.” (I point at the leopard.)

“This?” (She holds it up.)

“Yes.” (I take it and throw it back in the bin. I walk over to the $10 bear bin.) “Make this one or don’t make one at all.”

“How about that duck?”

“Bear.”

“Duck.”

“Bear.”

“Cat.”

“Bear.”

“Monkey?”

“BEAR. Take it and stuff it. Now.”

(She stomps her foot and tilts her head in a huff, but realizes I’m not kidding and grabs the bear.) “FINE.”

Meanwhile, Courtney and Amy are trying to decide on outfits for their bears. Courtney asked me to find a Marine uniform for hers and she named it Franky – it was totally cute. Sammy was a bit more indecisive while picking out clothes.

“Can I get this?” (Holds up a shirt.)

“Sure.”

“Okay, but it needs pajamas, too. I need to dress it in pajamas every night before bed.”

“No. Come on. You hardly spend thirty seconds brushing your teeth before bed. You think you’re going to change this thing’s clothes every night? Right. Get a grip, kiddo. One outfit.”

“I need TWO.”

“One.”

“But-”

“Sammy. Good lord. You’re already going to go over your $20 limit. Just please pick an outfit.”

“How about this one? Can I get underwear? It needs socks. Can I get a hat?”

“That’s cute. You don’t need underwear or socks. You want shoes?” (I cringe, realizing I shouldn’t have asked.)

“Ooh, YEAH. Shoes.”

“Put the hat back then.”

“Okay.” (She picks out shoes – Skechers – for the bear.)

Then we sit down at the computer, name it, get its birth certificate, etc.

“What outfit did Courtney get?”

“The Marine uniform. Are you sure you want to name it Bob?”

“I want a hat like Courtney’s.”

“Well, her hat came with the outfit. Bob? Are you sure?”

“Is there a hat like that?”

“The Navy one has the same hat. Are you sure you don’t want to name the bear Garrett or something? Just Bob?”

“Can I get a different outfit?”

“Oh, Sammy. Bob it is. Push the green button. Do you want the Marine one?”

“Courtney? Can I get the same outfit as you?”

We eventually made it out of the store with two teddy bear Marines and Amy’s naked bear and headed back to the food court for pizza which is another story all in itself.

On the ride home, we stopped at a red light next to these two crazy teenage guys in a yellow Lancer rapping to some wacky music thinking that only my aunt and her friend were looking at them. Once we rolled down the windows and they realized they had an audience of eight, they did a double-take and sped off. Of course we caught up to them blasting Good Charlotte and Sugarcult in the truck, all singing along at the top of our lungs like lunatics and waving the bubblegum yardstick box out the windows. We definitely frightened the security gate guy on the way back in.

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