I was having dinner with my children at the mall food court when Yaya pointed to a guy and said
“Mom, That dude over there, He is a mall cop”
I looked at the dude. He looked just like any other dude, no mall cop insignia to suggest otherwise.
“How do you know he is a mall cop?”
” ’cause he caught me couple of times” She said the preceding comment very casually and according to my son who was sitting right across me, My jaw was on the floor and my eyes were so huge it looked like I was choking on a giant squid. ( may be the other way around , the giant squid was choking me)
Now, don’t get me wrong, I am under no illusion that my children are angels. But Yaya is not really the kind of child one would expect to get in to trouble, that from a mall cop.
I have never gotten a speeding ticket when she was in the car, for she would be looking at the ‘spedo’ all the time and if I went a km over the posted the limit, she would chant “mom, you are speeding, mom you are speeding” over and over. It made no difference to her when I explained to her that legally I am allowed to go up to 10% above the posted speed limit ( to avoid calibration errors) for she argues that there is no sign underneath the posted limit that says + 10 km ! She follows rules diligently. So it was a real big shock to hear her tell me that she got caught by the mall cop couple of times.
“What did you do?” I asked while trying to imagine all sorts of things teenagers do ( Like I did when I was a teenager) and get in to trouble.
“First time, I was riding the scooter inside the mall”
“you didn’t” I said, for there are signs at the entrance of the mall that says no scooters/roller blades etc are allowed inside the mall.
“Yes, I did, but the mall was closed and I was waiting for you to pick me up. Mom, my friends and I just wanted to know how it feels to ride the scooter in the mall and unfortunately I was on the scooter when the mall cop came”
(Mall closes at 5.30 pm on weekdays, however Kmart/target/food court are still open and I wasn’t an irresponsible mom ask her to wait in a closed mall.. she was supposed to wait at the library)
“and?” I asked
“And what? He came and rolled his eyes just like you do and told me I can’t ride a scooter in the mall”
There was nothing much I could say, so I didn’t and I continued to eat, then I remembered she did say ‘ couple of times’.
Yaya, what else did you do to get in to trouble?”
“Oh, We were caught for playing on the escalator few times. Did you know it is against the rule to sit down on the escalator?” She asked me.
No, I didn’t. I never thought of sitting down on the escalator. I am still an Indian and can never sit somewhere where millions of people have walked and left a track of dirt. Imagine the types of dirt that are present on the floor !
“And?” I asked again
“And nothing mom, We figured he works on Wednesdays, so we don’t do anything to get us in to trouble on Wednesdays”
Hmm, I thought. Obviously she is enjoying the thrill of trying not to get caught.
But I am still her mother and it is my duty to tell my child not to get in to trouble.
“Yaya, you could get a police record and that will affect your future” I said, thinking that using police and future in one sentence probably might add a sense of fear in her.
“Mom, Seriously? You get a police record for shoplifting, but not for sitting down on an escalator. We only do that when no one is around and we are not hassling anyone”
I had no answer. And as the mall cop got up to take his tray to the bin, he passed by our table and he looked at Yaya and then at me. I think I saw a tiny smile of recognition..That he and I, we both have done many such things in our youth..and life is a great big cycle.