Back in the late 80’s to mid 90’s, my Mum, my brother Brandon, and myself would visit one of our local malls every Monday night for a brief round of shopping followed by dinner in the food court. They were these grand mini adventures that played out the same way every week: we’d go to the stores that my Mom wanted to visit and then she’d let me and my brother loose while she would get us food at the food court. My brother Brandon and I would hit the video games stores first (Electronics Boutique and Babbages) and then we were off to the record stores (Camelot and National Record Mart). During each trip, my brother and I got a small item each (think of it as a weekly allowance). I would usually spend my money on a cassette single or the latest copy of a video game magazine. After we made our purchase, we’d head off to the mall food court, eat our food as a family, and then head home. During dinner, I’d read my video game magazine or study the artwork on the cassette I just bought and tell my Mum and brother all about it. Brandon would do the same.
We did this so frequently that the employees who worked at the mall got to know us and we got to know them. It was like some weird pseudo family that only existed on Monday nights. But these trips were really important to me. It taught me a lot about family and parenting. Those moments in the food court having that icky (yet delicious) food court food while talking about the things I enjoyed were amazing. I don’t know if my Mom and brother were listening the whole time as I blabbed on about Turbo Grafx 16, but I felt as if they were and that they cared. Looking back on my youth, I never really felt like my family were against me. Through the little things my Mom purchased for me at the malls on Monday night, I see that they cared and nurtured my interests from a very early age. The mounds and mounds of video games magazines my mom let me keep in a closet(those closets were full of crap that I know it must’ve bugged her) showed me that she loved me and wanted me to become the person I wanted to be. She let me discover myself.