Oh, I don’t have an excuse.

Lately, Olivia and I have been hanging out at the mall (crazy, what motherhood will do to you).  It’s air-conditioned, there’s no traffic, and in the early morning, the Starbucks is open even when no shops are, so I can unleash the toddler to run the length and breadth of the mall without worrying too much about her bothering other people or getting run over.  There’s a carousel she likes to ride, and sometimes, when we’re there just when it opens, we get a free ride.

I don’t really SHOP at this mall (or any mall, really), I just go to the anchoring Target and then into the mall for the carousel and the Starbucks.  But today, I needed something at Bed, Bath, and Beyond, so I parked the car at that end of the mall, loaded the little one in the stroller, and head in.  The BB&B is located at the opposite end of the mall from the Target (where I also wanted to go), so I figured she could walk off some energy between on store and the next, and we’d stop in the middle for a snack, OH WHAT A GOOD MOTHER AM I.

Y’all.  Olivia has never, in her entire life, seen a Disney movie, been offered a Disney toy, heard a Disney song, been to Disneyland, or even glimpsed a commercial for a Disney product.  So I was kind of surprised when, thirty seconds after I liberated her from the stroller, she spotted the giant Mickey face in the entry way to the Disney store and made a BEELINE for it.  Imagine her two tiny legs, churning with the highest speed she can muster, cutting a diagonal across the mall to get to this Mickey, a character she’s NEVER SEEN BEFORE.

I was mostly intrigued- are there some sort of MOUSE PHEROMONES that toddlers are susceptible to?  Is there a sound that is audible only to their ears playing through hidden speakers?  What the hell is it about this giant cartoon mouse face she finds irresistible?  I mostly let her at it- she wandered from one shelf to the next, looking and touching, pulling shit off displays.

ASIDE: OK, what the hell am I supposed to do with a toddler on the loose and a stroller in a store?  Either I try and push the stroller along behind her, and hope she waits (HA HA) for me to navigate, or I park the stroller with my purse attached and follow her.  Or do I park the stroller and take my purse?  But my “purse” is her diaper bag, and when I bend down to pick her up, it flops forward over my head, spilling everything everywhere, so now I have a runaway toddler and the contents of my diaper bag to corral, and this is why I feel like a graceless whale.  Other moms in the mall seem very calm and collected- I’m pushing a stroller, carrying a bag, and hefting a toddler on my hip.  Also, my shirt is riding up under her, so my flabby gut is exposed, and I’m sweating from the hairline.  There’s a droplet of sweat dripping off my nose, and if I wasn’t smart enough to balance my purchases in the stroller, it’s tipping over backwards. What is the secret, moms?  I carried her for FORTY TWO WEEKS, I AM OWED THE SECRET.

Anyhoo- Olivia makes her way to the back of the Disney store where the stuffed animals are, and you can see it on her face.  She has reached her version of heaven.  She picks one up, hugs it under her chin, and tosses it to the ground, only to pick up the next one.  I could scream “only for looking” until I’m blue in the face, it’s not gonna work.  She’s tossing them faster than I can put them back, once she figures she can pull them off shelves with TWO HANDS, and finally I’ve had enough, I PICK UP AFTER YOUR ASS ALL DAMN DAY, and I pick her up.  I know I should probably have given her a warning, or given her choices, or whatever good parents do, but pulling shit off shelves drives me batshit, almost as much as replacing shit on shelves does, so I pick her up and head for the door.  Y’all.  You would think I’d attempted to SAW HER IN HALF.  She’s furious and screaming, she’s red in the face and her nose is running.  I’m not embarrassed- it’s the fucking Disney store, I’m sure they’ve seen it before.  I’m just MYSTIFIED.  What is it about that store?  She’s walked by tons of other stores without a glance, but this giant mouse gets her?

The storm passes quickly, like it always does (thank goodness), and we have a snack and ride the carousel and I huff back to the car, careful to give the Disney store a wide berth.

So spill it, seasoned parents: what is it about Disney?