The first weekend adventure for Lara, our German Exchange Student, HAD to include a trip to the local Mall for The Great American Shopping Experience with my two kids, Travis and Brittany, plus a best friend, Mariah! And…of course… a camera!
So many stores… so many windows… so many choices! Which store would be first? And were these stores in Germany? The girls quickly meshed into each other’s and likes and dislikes… knowing exactly what they were looking for… CLOTHES! (Travis and I just followed along like lost puppy dogs). It didn’t take long for them to ask one another, “Isn’t this cute?” or “Isn’t that cute?” It was the “Ooooh’s” and “Aaaahh’s” of a teenage love song about being an American Fashionista in 2011! Quite adorable, I must say! For 15-year-olds… life doesn’t get much better than this!
Soon, the girls hit Forever 21… today’s hot-spot for American teens looking for every style, every color and very affordable prices (something they know Mom can’t resist)! It’s a haven for girls ages 10-to-30… but even the 30-and 40-somethings find great styles and deals! The creator of this store knew EXACTLY what he/she was doing! Lure the kids in, weave through racks and racks of clothes, spread them out into several rooms… and throw a $5 or $10 sign on a rack here and there…and the girls are HOOKED! The largest Phoenix area stores are in Chandler Fashion Center and Arizona Mills Mall. But I hear there is a 5-story Forever 21 in New York City!
Travis couldn’t take much more “shopping with the girls” so we snuck up to the Food Court to soothe an 18-year-old’s stomach! I told him we could be gone for an hour and they probably wouldn’t notice. I was right! By the time we got back, 2 of the 3 were still in the Fitting Rooms. But wait…. there was still jewelry and socks and slippers and purses and scarves to look at it! Were we ever going to get out of there???
Overall… the damages were not too bad. Lara escaped with a White T-shirt with lace sleeves, a pink necklace and a gift for a special friend. Mariah escaped with jewelry. Brittany… well… let’s just say she bought her own jewelry and mom paid for the clothes. Each walking out of the store with a bag and a smile on their face!
Next stop… The Disney Store! Lara’s Mom loves Mickey Mouse so we went a little camera crazy! Lara’s mom posted a Facebook comment, “Don’t forget Mickey for me!” But I quickly responded via my phone that Mickey must come only from the Disneyland Park in California!
Then, my kids went back in time to their favorite Disney character and held a few items that made me remember the years past more than they did. It was bittersweet indeed!
In fact… as a mother…why didn’t I ever bring a camera to the Mall before? I think about all the missed moments when they were 5 and entering Kindergarten and I had to show them stripes and polka-dots don’t really match! And at age 9/4th grade… when they thought they had the whole school thing down! And 12 when they were starting Junior High… and knew everything but parents were “dumb”! And, of course, at 14 and entering High School…. when nothing a parent said could ever be “cool”!
The Great American Shopping Mall Experience for Lara turned out to be a blessing in disguise for an American Mother. Not only did I get to see a Teenager from Germany experience an American Mall for the first time… I got to capture on film a shopping experience of my own kids for the first time.