Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Smoke THIS

A year or two ago I was approached by my Stroller Strides teacher, Danielle, to be on a panel at Westfield's Garden State Plaza mall. It was going to be a "mom panel" to discuss ways to make the mall more family friendly. There was supposed to be a whole group of moms, like a focus group, to give them ideas and open a dialogue between the mall and the moms. We were already doing a thrice weekly Stroller Strides class there so I guess they thought Danielle's group would be a great place to start mining thoughts from.

I was the only one who showed up.

It was around an hour long meeting. I told them that the play area as it was just wasn't a great area. It was too small, not enough to do, and too close to a door. I guess they really don't have many options for space that isn't by a door but my thinking on that was more of a child getting snatched or running out versus any other reason. When the play area was by Joe's All American Grill, it was just a poor excuse for fun play space. Kids were climbing on the seating, the backs of the seating, and over the seating.

They showed me areas in other malls of theirs that were bigger and better but some were outdoor. They asked if we (the moms) would be cool with an outdoor space. I thought that was kind of a foolish question, considering most of us go to the mall with our kids to escape inclement weather, but I don't think they were really considering outside as an option anyway. They told me they were thinking of putting it by the food court. Since I have never eaten in their food court, I couldn't come up with pros or cons of that space.

So a year or two or more went by. I really couldn't tell you how long ago it was. My son is almost five and I quit Stroller Strides when he was 2.5 years old and went to school. So it was somewhere back at the tail end of my Stroller Strides time. Lo and behold I went to the mall a few months ago and saw they DID make the new play space. It IS bigger, better, and nicer. A few more things to do were added, like a slide. It also isn't as easy for the kids to get out unsupervised. There is only one way in and out and the walls are high, unlike how they were previously.

But the cons...the MAIN con that threw my husband into a tailspin is the SMOKING. Yes, that's what I said- SMOKING. It is RIGHT by the food court door to the outside. That also happens to be underground. So who is hanging out there, RIGHT OUTSIDE THE DOOR?? The smokers. The teen smokers, the employee smokers. The people holding a bag of McDonald's in one hand and cigarette in the other. The smokers waiting to go upstairs to the movie theater. B is very sensitive to smells, especially smoke. He was in the play space with E on Saturday night and he said within five minutes, his throat was killing him. So if it was bothering him, it had to be silently bothering all those kids. And the play space, at 8p on a Saturday night was PACKED.

There are other cons like that it being in the food court, kids are seduced by fast food crap and it's LOUD as hell over there. It's where all the teens hang at night and on the weekend, so there are just tons of teens hanging around, in various states of undress (yeah, yeah, I'm old- but sorry, even my husband was agog at all the...teen girl bodily exposure). But I can deal with noise and stripper-wear. They aren't my daughters.

All I see on TV these days are those AWFUL, disgusting, anti-smoking/lung cancer commercials where people are gasping for air, with tubes in their nose, DYING from emphysema, cancer, or other breathing complications due to smoking. So do we want that all over our kids as they play? All we wanted was a well thought out play area where the kids could play safely and the parents can take a minute to catch their breath. Well, no one is breathing easy in there.

And I get it- I was a smoker. I liked smoking. I loved smoking in a bar while throwing back a Malibu Bay Breeze. I liked it late at night, on the porch, with my friends, late night, at my rental in Belmar. But I was an adult in those scenarios, so I don't understand it here, and I don't like it on the kids who didn't ask for it. I'm sure there are people, probably PARENTS who were in that place space with their kids, that smoke- smoke in their house, in the car, smoke all over their kids and maybe don't think it's that bad. I hate to think there are still people that are that ignorant and selfish these days, with all we know, but I know they exist. But it is a big deal. I didn't trash my Newport Lights for good in 2005 to have my husband, my kid and I all smoked on into oblivion just because my kid wanted to play. It was a ridiculous oversight of the mall and it's just not fair to the rest of us who choose to be smoke-free. Just because you can't smoke IN the mall isn't enough....
See how close the doorway is to the space??


I don't care if they need an extra security guard to stand there and make sure no one is smoking there, but there are a million other entrances to the mall where they can light up. There are ones not even that far from the entrance in question. But the smoke has to go.

Send an email, send my blog- I don't care- just make your opinion heard- Tell them to get rid of the smoke by the kids play area.


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