Sometimes I take my children to the really nice supermarket. You know the one I mean. In actual fact, we go to the lovely playground first, so the children can burn off some energy and I can get some mummybrowniepoints (and sometimes I literally scoff a brownie from the cafe).
High on climbing adrenaline, the kids are normally happy enough to go in the spacious, posh trolley. Mummy gets her free coffee, the children beam at the staff, who complement me on my daughter’s curls (!) and my son’s impish giggle. All is well, I feel #soblessed and a #littlebitsmug.
But the Great Expedition to the Other Place. Woah. I’ve learnt a lot about how feral my kids can become there. It’s not the Other Place’s fault. It has amazing stuff at low prices. But there’s something about it that seems to make my kids go all kinds of crackers (though we do like their wholewheat crackers as one of many SNACKS.) Here’s a 25 point typical timeline:
- Arrive at over-crowded car-park. A Mum sheen begins to appear on my upper lip, as I realise my car has the turning-circle of a hippo. Try and orchestrate slick and swift manoeuvre, whilst swearing under breath at the car, other drivers and the Peppa Pig story tape that is the soundtrack to our journeys.
- Only 6 and a half minutes later, we have both located and parked in a (tiny) space. “Right then chickadee and chick, OFF we GOOOO!” I chirrup in an alarmingly perky tone. NO COATS, NO COATS” (or NOH COTS as the 22 month old would have it pronounced) chant my offspring, as the rain starts to chuck down and the temperature drops. I repeatedly mutter “We don’t negotiate with terrorists”, whilst running to get a trolley (kids still in view and car locked, don’t worry dear reader).
- I’ve forgotten the £1/ it won’t accept my new £1/ my pound isn’t the right level of shiny/dullness for the slot in the trolley. The Mum sheen is now a sweat.
- I return to my vehicle. The chanting has been replaced by a general whine for “SNACKS” (or “knacks”-thanks again, 22 month old). I decide to tackle the younger child first - I tentatively open my car door, suck in my tummy, tense my buttocks and squeeze my frame into the six inch gap that is between my car door and the car in the adjoining space. Upon release of the seatbelt my son immediately planks his body and slides down the car seat like he’s riding down a vertical drop in a bobsleigh. I manage to grab him, squeeze us both back through the teeny gap (toddlers still seem quite malleable), and after 14 attempts, two “mummy shoes a offa!!!” (translation = shoes kicked off, into ground) and one “oh GOD his leg bent in a weird way” near-misses, he is in the trolley and his “cot” is on.
- I negotiate for 3 minutes with my daughter about going in the trolley seat. She decides this is a good idea as long as she 1) doesn’t have to WEAR HER COAT and 2) can have “lots of snacks”. A beautiful moment - a “big girl” walks by wearing a coat: “LOOK AT THAT CLEVER BIG GIRL WEARING HER COAT” I foghorn, whilst wrestling her arms into her coat, and sprinting into the shop. Did I lock the car? Who knows.
- We enter the shop. That classic riff “It’s tooooo cold, sooo cold, I don’t want my coat” begins on a loop as we race through fruit and veg. I shove a packet of Safari Snacks at each child and promptly forget to buy any grapes, prompting a reminder from my daughter mid-mouthful.
- We have a fruitful discussion about cereal choices. Life is good.
- We reach the chocolate aisle. We are all momentarily stunned by its beauty. I look lovingly at the 85% chocolate plus orange mousse bars. I go into a reverie, out of which I’m quickly brought by my son trying to launch himself out of the trolley like a rocket to grab some chocolate buttons.
- My daughter grabs my son’s Safari Snack packet “to share them”. He cries and grab her glasses. An older man looks on-is he tutting or smiling? Either way I feel compelled to launch into that nursery rhyme classic “I had a little NUT. TREE.” My son starts to sing “all for der sake of my leedle NUD cheeez”. Nut cheese. Hmmm.
- We’ve made it half way. I do my best to distract my daughter as we go past the shiny nice kiddy tat aisle (she appears to have inherited my magpie-like tendencies). I fail to distract my daughter. Some hideous piece of plastic tat makes its way into my trolley (which I will later surreptitiously remove in a different section of the shop, and feel guilty that someone is having to work harder because I was trying to avoid a tantrum).
- We reach the candles-that-look-posh-and-smell-amazing-but-aren’t-expensive section. I go mad and put six in the trolley “just in case they stop stocking them.”
- We get to the final two aisles, where there is suddenly much more room. My daughter gets THAT LOOK in her eyes, and announces she must “skate” (for skate, read slide her feet along the slippery floor, announcing “I’m skating mummy/ lady/ old man/ baby-look! Weeeeeee!!!!” I try and keep her in the trolley. She extricates herself from her seat whilst I am picking up a 4 pint of semi-skimmed. The coat is discarded “so I can dance mummy” and I begin to really get close to 10000 steps as I run back and forth from trolley to bonkers, “skating” Pre-schooler.
- The toddler is outraged that he cannot “skate” and begins to shriek “no mummy STUCK OW STUCK” in protest. Another Mum smiles at me. I want to hug her. I don’t hug her.
- My daughter is coaxed back to stand next to the trolley by promises of a “special treat.”
- I panic as I realise the “special treat” (smarties) is in my car boot.
- My daughter points to the Peppa Pig ice creams and says “don’t worry mummmma, we can manage with these.” I laugh and curse myself for ever having bought them on that one summer’s day when I wanted to be the “fun Mummy”.
- We reach the checkout. I have put the trolley at the perfect angle to allow my son to pull the nuts, chewing gum and other such items off the bit above the conveyor belt. I am now extremely sweaty and cursing my choice of “winter chic”.
- It’s our turn to pack the shopping. The checkout assistant processes my items with such alarming speed that I feel compelled to chuck my eggs in the trolley, breaking a couple as they go, shoving heavy fizzy water bottles on top of the bananas (my sparkling water habit is shocking) and completely abandoning my “bagging system”, all the while trying to persuade my daughter that playing “hide and seek” RIGHT NOW is NOT going to work.
- I go to pay. Somehow I have spent a small fortune (I don’t know HOW all those candles ended up in my trolley.) I feel I must justify my candle habit. My son goes to grab the assistant’s glasses while my daughter “skates” to the shop exit. Sweaty no longer covers it.
- We reach the car. There is no room in the boot because of the chuffin’ buggy/scooter/bike combo.
- I throw shopping at the boot and passenger seat, telling the children to “always be jolly” while they whinge about “more (s)nacks NOW”.
- The children are finally in the car. The mad dash to return the trolley is completed. My heart is pounding but I’m one step closer to those 10,000 steps.
- I’ve forgotten to buy oranges, a birthday card for my godson and nappies, the main reason for going to the Other Place.
- We’ve reached danger-nap time for my son, so I sing loudly all the way home whilst Peppa blares out of the sound system. 20 seconds before reaching home, he falls asleep.
- Next time I’m doing an Ocado order.
Laura, Power of Mum