These Parents Wore Disguises to Spy on Their Son's First Solo Hangout at the Mall

Jennifer Tisdale - Author

Dec. 6 2023, Published 5:33 p.m. ET

Because I was a teenager in the mid '90s, the best decade, mall culture was a driving force behind most of the hangout sessions with friends. I was so emotionally invested in my local mall that when they redesigned the food court, I lost it once I discovered they did not bring the Taco Bell back. What did pop up, however, was a Sbarro and — more importantly — Sbarro Boy. He was my mall crush and I ate too much pizza trying to talk to him. Alas, we were never meant to be.

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I assumed going to the mall for any reason was a dying art, until a TikTok proved me wrong. A couple decided to document their son's first trip with his friends to this sacred space sans parents, or so he thought. His folks decided to throw on some disguises so they could make sure the kids were up to the appropriate amount of no good. The mall is a magical place! Anything can happen there, and usually does.

 CIRCA 1960's: Interior of commercial retail mall, people shopping and walking.
Source: Getty Images

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These parents have watched too many spy movies.

I'm calling this couple the Marshalls, but on TikTok, Mrs. Marshall is known as @redheadtilimdead. Together the Marshalls picked up their son's friends and headed to the one place that truly has it all: the mall.

It was their son's first time hanging out with his pals without any adults around, so naturally the mall was the best place to do this. Everything you could need is in one central location. From food to movies to arcade games, to a weird play area in the middle filled with unsupervised children, it's the best.

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Because the Marshalls don't have the luxury of being parents in the 1990s, when children roamed the streets like feral animals, they hatched a plan to keep tabs on their son. One word: disguises!

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After making sure the kids got into the mall safely, the parents found a place to park and put Operation Double O 7-11 into first gear. Obviously they needed disguises, so Mom and Dad put on gray-haired wigs and changed their clothes. Relying on ageism to stay hidden is a great idea!

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Honestly I love this because these parents seem fun. I bet Halloween is wild at their house. As Mrs. Marshall carefully applies the fake beard to Mr. Marshall's face, he couldn't help but snicker at the camera. This is probably something Johnny Knoxville's parents did when he was a kid, and look at him now!

After the parents found a bench in the mall, their son and his buddies walked by and barely glanced in their direction. The plan was working. At some point they caught the kids pretending to sword fight with what looked like the kind of balloons one uses to make balloon animals. The Marshalls couldn't help but giggle.

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Perhaps the Marshalls were getting bored because they started to test just how close they could get to the kids. While in the Nike store, Mr. Marshall pretends to look at shoes, but the jig was up soon after when their son noticed Mrs. Marshall. "We're busted," she wrote over the moment he figured out what was going on. How did he take it? He ran over and enthusiastically said, "Hi, Mom!"

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That last part was a favorite of so many people in the comments. They were moved by the look of joy on his face. "It’s my favorite part of the entire video," replied Mrs. Marshall to one comment. "Just really showcases his sweet nature perfectly."

My favorite part was one person was actually at the mall when all of this was happening and commented that they were trying to figure out why these people were in costumes.

I think part of the reason why this worked out is these kids are nice, but they are also a little too young to be embarrassed. Once those teen years hit, they might be looking for their own Sbarro employee. I wish them all the luck in the world!

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