Posted by: Jamie Stamm | August 22, 2008

Moms taking over the world … one waiting room at a time

As always happens when money is in short supply, the engine in the minivan started rattling earlier this week, and yesterday when I took it in for an oil change, the service technician recommended that I get to the dealership ASAP. So this morning, after dropping Cera off at school, Anthony and I headed to the service center.

Knowing it could be a long wait, I had armed myself with a lunch box (Anthony had to have one since his big sister does) filled with dry cereal, granola bars, applesauce and a juice box; Ant’s favorite books and his “Cars” cars.

But before my butt even hit a waiting room seat, the only other customer there, a middle-aged man, looked up from his Sports Illustrated and said, “You know, there’s a playroom.”

Yes, I knew there was a playroom. But my son hadn’t had breakfast yet and you can’t eat or drink in the playroom. Not to mention that neither one of us had made a single sound loud enough to warrant his comment, which wasn’t uttered in the nicest of tones.

I smiled and nodded at him, then broke out the provisions. As Anthony ate, I read to him from his “Thomas and Friends” books, which apparently was too much for customer No. 2, another middle-aged man who had come in and sat about 10 feet from us, and then got up and moved to another part of the waiting room, his back to us as he simultaneously typed on his laptop and talked on his Bluetooth.

“Come on, Anthony. Let’s go to the playroom,” I finally said – to which Jerk No. 1 looked up from his magazine for a second time, giving me an “I won” smile.

The “playroom” is a small, glassed-in area with a block table (with no blocks), a gear table (with no gears), three video game systems (none of which were working), some pretty nasty stained carpet (even though there’s no food or drink allowed) and apparently the most frigid air conditioning system in the world – I had goosebumps almost immediately.

Anthony seemed confused by his new surroundings – there were so many cool things to play with, yet every time he tried one out, Mommy told him it was broken. We finally resorted to playing with his cars on the dingy carpet.

But when Anthony climbed into my lap and said, “Mama, I cold,” I decided it was time to emerge from our prison. Thankfully, the waiting room was empty. So I let Ant get down on the floor and play with his cars again – as loudly as he wanted.

A few minutes later, another mom and her three children came in to have their minivan serviced, and by 10:30 a.m., we had turned the customer lounge into “Romper Room.” There were crushed-up Goldfish crackers on the floor, crayons and coloring books spread out on a table that had been moved to kid level and small voices demanding drinks from the water fountain. There was running and jumping and – occasionally – crying. There was life in that waiting room – joy even. It was magnificent.

And when other customers came in, they just dealt with it – some with smiles, others with looks of annoyance. But I didn’t care. My son and I had been waiting on our car for three hours, and I thought his behavior was quite acceptable – even good (wow, I can’t believe I just typed that) – for a 2-year-old in that situation.

Next time I visit the dealership, I won’t be banished to the playroom, but I won’t let my children drive the other customers wild either. Unless those customers are obnoxious. And then I will just sit and wait for another mom to show up because now I know there’s strength in numbers.

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