Growing up, one of my family’s regular routines was going to the mall, and I hated every second of it. My parents, my two siblings, and I would pile into the the minivan and head out on a weekend. We would go to the large outlet and even the local malls with the huge department stores. It was a drag; all the boring clothes and those weird looking manikins that seemed to have eyes that followed you every where…even the ones without heads…super creepy. It was definitely not my favorite family activity.
My siblings and I would sit with my Dad, asking to do anything possible to make it less boring.
“Baba, can we go to Radio Shack?” Radio shack was one of my favorite places to go, all the electronics were so fun to look at!
“Baba, can we get a pretzel from Auntie Anne’s?”
“Baba, can we this?”
“…Can we THAT!?”
(Baba is what we call our Dad in Arabic)
We would always ask, and as usual my Dad would always reply, “Sweet dreams are made of these, who am I to disagree…” taken from a song that was famous in the 80’s. He would sing this song while making some weird wavy motion with his hands, never ACTUALLY giving us a direct answer, making us more and more frustrated.
But on the other hand, one of the better things about going to the mall with my family was that we got to go on virtual adventures. “How?” You might wonder. As soon as my Mom went of to a particular section of the department store, my Dad would sit us three down among the racks of clothes, sometimes under the racks of clothes, and the adventures began. My Dad would takes us into his world of animals and forests. There was always a lion and a fox and lots of complicated agendas and coups and injustice. I learned a lot about values and morals and speaking up for what is right from these put-upon animals.
Whenever we sat down I always thought my Dad had the story completely in his head and that he knew what was going to happen; it was always something new. I was amazed. I had a great reverence for my Dad’s ability to tell stories and get us all so very engaged in what was happening. As I grew a bit older, though, I realized he built a lot of the stories around our reactions and what we thought was going to happen. Now I know why his stories always ended on a cliff hanger and lasted months on end!
My Baba was one of the first people to inspire me to tell my own stories.