Holiday Train at the Mall. 2015-12-04

HolidayTrain4Like all parents, there are many experiences and stories, some joyful, some introspective, some educational, some poignant, some heartbreaking, some disappointing, some humorous or downright hilarious, some embarrassing, and most are memorable.  The holiday train at the mall in 1983 was a little of all of these. My two boys at the time were ages 3 and 4. Both darling, sweet, ornery, loveable, huggable, bright, active, and completely embodied the nursery rhyme What are little boys made of? Snips and snails and puppy-dogs’ tails.  On a busy Saturday close to Christmas, my sister Judi and I were bundling up the boys planning on a fun day starting with lunch, then heading to the mall for a little holiday shopping and a trip to see Santa Claus. Such fun! Wow, what a crowd with a line winding back past a row of stores.  A couple of little boys in line for any length of time is usually a challenge but today it appeared it would be more so.  Well, before we get in that big line, how about we let them ride the train?  This will be fun.  The line isn’t all that long right now.  I bought the tickets, waited our turn, escorted the boys through the entry gate where the ride attendant took over.  The kids were seated on the bench subway style facing toward us which was great so that we wouldn’t be looking at the back of their heads as they passed by.  Judi and I were on one side of the fence jockeying for position with the other parents for the opportunity to see the cute little faces as they passed us on their candy-cane inspired journey.  This was the stuff that made being a young mother totally awesome.  The conductor blew the whistle and the train started slowly rolling passing us as we waved to the two boys sitting next to one another.  So sweet. A Hallmark moment for sure. The train continued on its circuitous path around the Santa’s Village so adorably decorated in the middle of the tracks. As the train was approaching us after its first lap, we were preparing to wave excitedly at the little cherubs as they passed us for the second time. Here they come! Then it happened. I see Nick the 3-year old, but the seat next to him is vacant.  Where’s my 4-year old Jay? Panic started rising from my toes to my head which swirled in a kind of slow motion altered universe surreal dizziness.  My child is missing?  “Wait! Wait! My son is not on the train!”  Then I see him. He is no longer in the train, but running on the tracks behind the train.  What the heck is he doing?  I am now running outside the barrier fence in concert with the train yelling, “Jamie! Jamie!!” Just then he jumps onto the back of the train and tries to climb the little ladder attached to the caboose in a driven attempt to reach the top. The attendant was flagging down the engineer, I was running along with the train, Judi was not sure what was going, but was saying things like, “Good grief.” and “What in the world?” The train came to a stop, the children including Nick were released back to their disgruntled waiting parents, Jay was escorted back to me with the biggest smile on his face.  I proceeded to apologize to everyone while the attendant announced we were barred from ever being allowed back on the Santa train at the mall. As we were making our hasty departure from the area, I leaned over and asked Jay what in the world were you thinking? “I was Clint Eastwood,” he said with the biggest smile on his face.  What?  Oh yeah, I have stories.  Sandy


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