Year 5, Day 259

Veterans’ Day brought with it a horrifying situation this year — I was off work (Jaclyn was not), Miles was out of school, and it was raining outside. The latter came after I had suggested to Miles that Friday might be a good day for a hike, which he had completely latched onto. The weather was not a deterrent for him; he did not understand why our hike wasn’t going to be possible. I needed a viable alternative.

I hate malls. Like really hate them. Between the hordes of clueless people, hodgepodge of stores selling overpriced merchandise, and those relentless kiosk people in the middle of the walkways, every single detail of a moden mall seems tailored to trigger my anxiety. But Concord Mills Mall does have something inside of it I thought Miles might enjoy, so I ventured forth into that damned land to take Miles to the Sea Life Aquarium.

Miles initially rejected the aquarium plan, but once he laid eyes on the place, this tune changed.

“What’s in there?” he asked, lingering at the entrance as we walked the mall.

“Oh, that’s that aquarium I told you about,” I said dismissively, hoping he’d take the bait.

“Can we go in there?”

“Sure,” I said. “But only if you really want to.”

He did, in fact, really want to.

Making it even better, Miles was told there was a scavenger hunt component to the visit, and if he could find all eight stamp stations he could get a prize on the way out. Those stamp locations arguably became a larger focus for Miles than the actual sea life all around him.

Still thought the fish were cool though.

We spent about an hour exploring the aquarium (and yes, Miles did find all of those stamps). I think we both had a good time, but I was truly surprised at just how nice the aquarium was considering it stands in one of my least favorite spots in town. The term “mall aquarium,” I found, does not do it justice.

Still, we were at the mall, so you know we weren’t able to leave empty-handed. I let Miles pick out a Lego set, and we spent the rest of the afternoon assembling it together.

If you look really close, Miles’s name is on Santa’s naughty list. At least, that’s what I told him.

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