No Children Welcome At Stones River Mall

No Children Welcome At Stones River Mall

Why you shouldn't take your kids to Stones River mall in Murfreesboro.
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Rivergate Mall, Opry Mills, Cool Springs Mall and Stones River all have something in common other than clothing and perfume stores. They all have play areas for kids. While all of these malls share this common factor, not all designated play areas are treated equally. If you have ever been in Cool Springs Mall, you can hear the squeals of children all over the mall. The same thing goes for Opry Mills. They are happy places to be a kid. However, the same cannot be said for the Stones River Mall in Murfreesboro Tennessee. In fact, speaking from personal experience, the play area should be taken down completely.

A few months ago, a few moms from the local stay at home mom group, met up for a play date at the mall. Before this particular play date, we'd had several very successful play dates that lasted a few hours and sometimes we all got lunch afterwards. This had become a favorite play date for my daughters, especially because it was big enough for my oldest, yet small enough for my youngest. It was kind of a tradition to get a slice of pizza or Chinese before leaving the mall, so lunch and play was a great combo before nap time. We also would play before or after seeing Santa or the Easter Bunny.

Naturally, setting up a play date for similar aged kids made sense, and a few moms were saying they needed to shop while we were there, so why not give our business to a place where our kids can be kids, right? Wrong.

It was a few weeks before Easter, too humid outside, and a lot of us were going stir crazy from being kept indoors during the winter. No more than fifteen kids, most preschool and under, and maybe ten moms were present when a security guard came over and told the moms to make our kids be quiet or leave. At first, it was kind of shock factor because the kids weren't jumping around; most hadn't even taken their shoes off yet. On top of the children not acting disorderly, the security guard’s whole tone and attitude weren’t a professional authoritative one, but rather a bullying and demanding one.

I left a review about this experience on their Facebook page and did get a few responses from it. Turns out, there are moms who swear they'll never go back because the same thing happened to them. The marketing person for the mall did respond to my review saying that we should try one of their kid clubs or check out Chuck E. Cheese. Their exact wording was that it is "also a great, enclosed location for kids to act as kids do."

After my response of possibly tearing the play area down to not attract kids towards the area, I was messaged personally from a person in their marketing department, and offered tickets to Breakfast with the Easter Bunny and a free 5x7 print. While this might have been appetizing to some moms, I felt it wasn't enough because my kids weren't the only ones involved in this situation.

One mom, who wishes to not be named, had driven from Shelbyville Tennessee to meet up with a few moms and let her kids play. She had brought her oldest son, who has high functioning autism, prepared with books and school work to occupy him. While she was turned around trying to help her toddlers take their shoes off, a security guard asked her older son to leave the area immediately. Following orders, he did so. When the mom turned around, her son was nowhere to be found. Luckily he was not too far off, but things could have been much worse.

Since our said incident in March, things have continuously gotten worse. I am constantly seeing my news feed fill up with how Stones River isn't the place to be, or how the security guards have mocked the children. The only reason I have personally been back is because of a birthday party at Chuck E Cheese. Early last week, Susie King of Murfreesboro Tennessee, brought her two sons, six and four, to play at the play area after buying a lawn mower. She estimates that there were 12 to 15 children present, all small enough to play, and all playing very well. They were there for about five minutes before the manager of the mall came over and started shouting at the parents. The manager stated that, “you parents need to get your kid's noise levels under control.” Of course, five minutes after that incident, a security guard came over and told everyone to leave immediately because the play area needed to be cleaned. Before being escorted out of the mall by security, King told the manager of the mall that she would be contacting the mall ownership regarding what happened only to be told that the manager didn’t care.

Sound familiar? The exact same situation that happened to the local mom group only months prior, when all parents present would tell you that the kids were acting fine and at an acceptable noise level. The only difference in King’s experience and my experience is that we left before they could give us the transparent excuse that the play area needed to be cleaned. As a mental note and reminder to all parents in middle Tennessee, if you need to shop and have younger kids in tow, check out Stones River’s Facebook page before deciding to go there. Opt for Opry Mills or Cool Springs instead, they have better selections, upgraded space, and would love to have your children there.

Cover Image Credit: Jennifer Newkirk Haley

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My Mom Is My Twin, My Role Model, And My Best Friend

What would I do without her?
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Ever since I was very young, everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, has told me how much I resemble my mom. Whenever we both walked into a room, people would automatically know that we definitely had to be related, and would even say that I was an exact replica of her.

She's even told me countless of times herself that I must blind to not see our similarities, which is basically to a point that we could pass as sisters, or even twins. And even to this day, I sometimes still can't even see it.

There's no doubt that my mom and I have become inseparable and even best friends.

We've shared amazing memories together, from going on vacations and trips together all over the world, to spending Monday nights on the couch watching "The Bachelor" and gossiping about who we thought wouldn't get a rose and make it to the next round.

She loves hearing about my college experiences and stories, and is always willing to being open and trying new food trends with me. We've spent so much time together that we often sometimes are thinking the exact same thing or can finish the other person's sentence. So even though one might say we're twins due to how tied at the hip we are, I don't see how I resemble the pure amazingness that she truly is.

Yes, we might have the same eyes or the same facial structures, which has already taken me so long to admit. But I am nowhere close to how awesome and inspiring my mom is.

From shadowing her over the past 19 years, I've learned so much about this amazing woman. She works endless hours to make sure everyone is happy and satisfied, which sometimes means sacrificing her own time to make this possible.

Positivity is always radiating from her aura, where she holds the mindset that she can achieve anything if she believes she can. It's also clearly evident about how driven she is about her work, where she makes it her goal to follow her passion and pursue what she loves doing, even if it might not bring her instant success.

My mom has become my role model, because she is the most dedicated and loving person I know.

She leads her life with a positive smile, and makes every day the best it can be for her and everyone around her. I know that if I ever need guidance or help, she will be there for me in a second.

And whenever she doesn't see all of these amazing qualities about herself, it hurts me inside knowing that she's not aware of how big of a difference she's made to me and many others in her life.

Even in her moments of weakness, I still see her as the strongest woman I know. Like anyone else, she has experienced many challenging and difficult moments in her life, where it would've been easy for anyone else to give up and walk away.

But even if she doesn't recognize how strong she truly is, I have seen her time after time instantly get back up on her feet and find a solution on how to work through the pain, and most importantly, accept it as a way to move forward.

She uses the scars of her past as a way to show everyone that she is unstoppable and determined to keep living her life the way she wants to, by pursuing her passions and surrounding herself with positivity and the people she loves.

And even if accepting her hardships might be challenging and something she still sometimes struggles with internally, she still pushes through each day with a smile and an optimistic outlook.

Shadowing her for 19 years has made me wish that I could be my mom's twin, even though I didn't want to admit it when I was a young and stubborn kid. I might easily resemble her in physical attributes, but there is no way I am as strong as she manages to be.

One day, I can follow in her footsteps and lead my life with the same principles and strengths that I have witnessed her do on a day to day basis from the countless hours that I've spent with her.

So here's to my best friend, my twin, the strongest and most beautiful person I know, the kindest soul, and the most loving mother that I sometimes don't even deserve. Thank you for teaching me everything you have so far, and for inspiring me to be the strongest and greatest version of myself, even though I might not believe in myself due to my own challenges.

Hopefully I can apply everything that I've learned from you to my own life and be as amazing as you are.

Cover Image Credit: Ashley Britton

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To My Sisters Starting Middle School

As you girls are in the last stretch of elementary school, I wanted to offer my advice and embarrass you with the overwhelming sense of pride I have for you both.
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To my sisters about to start middle school,

I never understood why parents and family would always say, “You’re growing too fast, slow down," but having sisters that are ten years younger than me has really shown me just how true this statement is. As you girls are in the last stretch of elementary school, I wanted to offer my advice and embarrass you with the overwhelming sense of pride I have for you both.

Watching you two grow up has been so much fun; I tend to think that being an influence in your life has helped me grow more than it has helped you. I hope I can always be a voice of reason for you both. When you are doubting yourselves, your relationships, I hope you girls know you can come to me.

Watching you girls grow and blossom has been one of the most exciting experiences of my life, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. You inspire me each day to be a better person and have taught me how to be a kid again. I laugh more with your precious smiles than with anyone else in the world.

You teach me new ways to look at things, and I hope to do the same for you. As I get older the more I realize how much I cherish the time we do get to see each other. When I am able to get home, all I want to do is be with you two.

You are some of the most strong-willed, intelligent, and beautiful girls. Your smiles light up any room you walk into, your laughter is a song. As you start this new chapter, remember how amazing you are and deserving of every opportunity thrown your way.

Cherish your friendships and each other. Remember to be kind and show compassion to those you meet. Leave an impression of grace and kindness so no one can say a mean thing about you. Use your brain and your heart, not just one or the other. I am so excited to see you girls continue to grow into the wonderful young woman you already are.

You have touched my heart so deeply and permanently ingrained yourselves in every conversation I have. The hardest part of college for me is being away from my two very best friends. I miss opening the door for you girls when they get off the bus or making you junk food because Mom said no. I miss going to breakfast all the time and being able to hug you whenever I want.

Whether sitting across the living room, or across the state, the bond we have created in unbreakable and irreplaceable. Every second spent with you both has been cherished and the memories to come will be cherished too. It’s so easy to take for granted those we love, but you have opened my eyes to the fact that even though we miss each other, the love we share can never make any distance or time damage the relationship we have between the three of us.

I am so proud of you girls. I am your biggest cheerleader and number one fan in all that you choose to do. I will be in the stands, the sidelines, the auditorium, whatever it is, cheering you both on in anything and all you do.

Love,

Your over-bearing, extremely proud, sister

Cover Image Credit: Shanna Mais

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