Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A Mall or a Babysitting Service?

"I'm bored."

I cannot tell you how many times I've heard this from my 15-year-old sister. Unfortunately for her, she lives out in the boonies, so she can't hop over to the movies, or the skating rink, or the mall like those city kids.

Well...actually, you can scratch off that last one, because at one local mall here in the New Orleans area, on weekends, from 4:00 p.m. until close, all kids under age 16 will have to be accompanied by a parent. Is that a radical move, or what? Apparently, the mall is tired of being used as a babysitting service (mall management words, not mine), and I can't say I blame them. I've been to this mall on a Saturday, and witnessed with my own eyes the complete chaos those unaccompanied minors can cause.

So what does this mean? Parents will actually have to spend time with their kids! Ouch!

What's my suggestion for the kids and parents who claim there's nothing for kids to do these days? As a writer, and an avid reader, my first thought is always READ A BOOK! Books are good. They're fun. They can bring you to places way more exotic than the mall. What's wrong with bringing your kid to the bookstore or library? In fact, you can read the same book and then discuss it.

Even for those who don't enjoy reading, (besides feeling sorry for you) I can think of a number of other options. Instead of giving them twenty bucks to go hang out at the mall, why not take that money to catch a movie together, or go out for a burger and spend an hour talking about what's going on in their lives? Why not break out Scattergories, Taboo, or a deck of Uno cards, and hold a game night?

Next time your teen complains that there's nothing to do, don't send them to the free babysitter, aka the mall. Actually do something with them. You may discover that you actually enjoy their company.

Or, maybe you won't, but that should be your problem, not the mall's or its patrons.