Shopping Buddies

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Nothing says "holidays" better than receiving an itemized list from a child, supplying the who, what and where of desired -- really "essential" he or she says -- gifts. It's fun to be in that place in family life where the last month of the year seems to be one where you and child walk hand-in-hand through the wonderment of the season. There's Santa. There's putting the chosen tree on the roof of your car. There's talk of naughty and nice and all the power that commands ... at least for a few weeks.

But I entered another dimension this past holiday season with my eldest son William. Not only does this dimension include William's desire to be called "Will," I now have added another shopper to our household. Gone are the days of William/Will at the age of 4 running around in a pair of red rain boots, black cape tied at the neck and a cheap knockoff of an Indiana Jones hat on any given hot, dry Indiana summer day.

Surprised he hasn't confiscated the documentation of that phase (which was utterly adorable and charming I may add), William/Will now sports a hairstyle rather than the bowl cut his father once gave him on the back patio. (Maybe it was his dad's accidental knick of his ear that precipitated his future demand for professional haircuts.) He knows more about labels, and color selection is of the utmost importance; worried about such things as the light blue of his coat appearing too feminine.

I get it. He's 12 now and is aware of the world around him. Being that age, though, he mistakenly thinks that all eyes in the world are on him. Believing this, it's no wonder that for Christmas William has strong opinions about what is given to him and what is given to others.

So on a cold Thursday night, he and I ventured to Yelp's third Totally Bazaar this year at the Old City Hall (the old State Museum and library). Food trucks were parked along Alabama Street, but the dance rhythms from inside pulled us in. It was crazy crowded. Three floors. Around 90 businesses. Watering holes and even an art installation photo space where we cheesed it up in the white-on-white-on-white room. We did it all. We didn't miss a booth and not an item went unexamined.

And although I couldn't step too far back because of the crowds, I watched William all evening. He loved all the people, the frenzy of shoppers. He asked questions about the superhero capes at Little Green Bean Boutique. He flipped through the books for sale on Indy Reads' table. He sampled flavored syrups and smelled the body oils. William/Will bought a knit face mask designed to resemble a red beard. He wore it proudly, as he helped me pick out a bow tie from American Armadillo and clutches from borislovednatasha. We even sat a spell in the Indy Film Fest screening room to watch all three of the featured shorts.

I have read, been told and then been reminded more than once that parents should resist being friends with their children while their kids are young. That reward of a more mutual relationship between parent and child happens later, after the hard days of parenting and the even harder days of growing up have passed. But in the middle of that crowded bazaar, I had a sense of what it might be like between son and mother someday, and I consider it one of the best gifts 2013 sent my way.

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