I adore my goddaughter. Her name is Natalie, and her beautiful face is one of the things that swayed me into the crazy decision to have my own children. She is perfect, just on the cusp of the “tween” years, and passionate about animals.
As much as I love this amazing young woman, I don’t get together with her as often as I would like. When she was little, our families would get together almost weekly. We’d pick up a pizza and hit the park, or just let the wee ones play in one of our houses. As the kids got older, and their school and sports schedules got crazier, our time together started to decline.
It has started to become a tradition, though, for Natalie and I to grab dinner and hit the mall to celebrate her birthday.
Just the two of us; enjoying some of our favorite things.
We started off at the Chinese Buffet for dinner. Her pick. “Oooo… they have a chocolate fountain!” Yes, we indulged.
Just a bit, of course, since our plan also included hitting Gertrude Hawk at the mall.
Wrapping up at the buffet, we sped over to the mall. Last year we traipsed around the mall long enough that we missed our chance to snag some chocolates at Gertrude Hawk. To avoid such a catastrophe, we began our mall trek in that very location. “How about this, Aunt Ria?” she enquired as she pointed to a white and milk chocolate animal. “And this?” with a gesture to some peanut butter chocolate pretzels. How could I say no to that smile? Then I spotted my favorite treat – dark chocolate covered raspberry jellies.
Just a few? I can justify buying a few of them.
With our delectable treasure carefully packed away, we trotted off to our next stop. You just never know what amazing treasure you’ll find in a Hallmark store, right? Her gaze drifted over to the Vera Bradley display. She’s not a greedy child. I had to persuade her to take a closer look at the wallets, and convince her that I really was thrilled to buy one for her. Her face lighting up was all the reward I needed.
Is it time to eat some of that candy? Oh yeah… just a bit. Mmmm… one more?
Journeys was our next stop. I confess; it was mostly for me. You see, they now make Batgirl Converse, and I wanted to gawk and drool. No Batgirl shoes… I sighed. Natalie spotted a bag, though. A bag covered with the leading ladies of DC. Yes, please, I’ll take one of those. “Oh, we heard you mention the Batgirl shoes. We can special order them for you.” Now it was just fate. I placed my order.
My inner Batgirl appeased, we proceeded to another shop.
At this point I had fully regressed to my preteen self. We giggled our way through Claires, both choosing fake mustache accessories. Did you know they made earrings and necklaces with those? We darted through the bookstore. Of course I bought her a book. Our final store was called Pinwheels. Last year, I’d purchased her a small dragon statue. This year, they had sweet little animal figurines. We “oooed” and “awwwwed” over them for a while, then turned to go.
“Wait, Aunt Ria,” Natalie tugged on my arm. “If you buy the hummingbird for me, I’ll buy the piggy mermaid for you.”
Just for a night, I was a kid again. And it was perfect.
Yes, I tried to remain an adult. If she’d asked to devour all our candy on the spot, I would have regretfully said no. If she’d begged for a “too grownup” makeup set, I would have declined. After all, I don’t want her mother to never let me in the house again! Really, though, the joy I felt in being a girl at the mall again made it all worthwhile.
When’s our next outing?