Shopping with young children is as bad an emotional experience as you can have without requiring the assistance of sedatives and hospitalisation.
Usually, upon arriving at the shop entrance you must immediately return to the car to locate a dollar coin for your trolley, or worse, find a struggling, angry newsagent who will agree to change a $50 note for you.
The first ten seconds in the shop are usually okay. That is about how long it takes to push a trolley from the shop entrance to the avocados and is also about how long children will behave like civilised members of society. The furthest I’ve ever made it with children remaining in the trolley is to the potatoes. My goal for 2017 is to make it to the deli.
Unfortunately, there are no restraining devices on a trolley’s dual seat, otherwise I’d use them, tightly. I am tempted to let my children learn the hard way when they stand in the trolley. The prospect of compensation for any injury they might suffer is appealing. However, the store’s camera footage of me watching them tumble to the tiled floor with a smirk on my face would render any payment unlikely. So, as soon as the screeching starts I get them out. They can completely ruin the day of other people too.
In their oblivious wisdom, Woolies in conjunction with Jamie Oliver have come up with a clever initiative, that being, children can eat fruit for free while out shopping with Mum and Dad.
I wish this offer was designed to curtail the awful behaviour of children, thereby assisting in the mental wellbeing of parents, though sadly, I suspect it is simply to encourage children to eat fruit.
The Woolies gesture may have seemed a generous one if most of us hadn’t been feeding our kids fruit for free anyway.
Not only is the offer hollow, it provides no assistance to parents, because as soon as you’re out of the fresh produce section and into the remaining 24 isles of sugar-laden shite, that’s when the kids really kick off.
Last time our daughter was performing a screaming backspin in the dairy isle, on the cusp of breakdown, my wife said, ‘Fuck it, yoghurt’s got fruit in it, she can have one of them for free too.’
For me, the same applies to any food in the shop, including dog food. You do what you must to survive, criminal or otherwise. I cleanse my conscience by treating all grocery thefts as payment for having to scan my own items and pack my own bags.
Thanks to my children, I often remove more items from my trolley than I put in it. So, if you’ve ever wondered how on earth a 20-pack of Freddo Frogs got from a shelf on isle 4 to a shelf on isle 20, it was me.
Often, I’ll just give up trying to control my kids in a shop. If the opportunity presents itself, let’s say they’re staring greedily at Cheezels like the glutinous goons they are, I’ll do the bolt from them. Annoyingly, either the little brats find me or some dickhead good Samaritan will bring them to me, and then have the audacity to expect me to be grateful.
On a lucky day, I’ll hear the front manager announce, ‘We have a three-year-old girl and a five-year-old boy at the counter who are very upset. They are looking for their dad.’
This is what I call the Coles/Woolies free babysitting service. It allows me to fully relax, take my time and enjoy shopping in peace.
The checkout experience is always chaotic, but sometimes funny if one of your children gets coat-hangered by one of the silver railings while they’re chasing each other. Funny is funny. With half your groceries already on the conveyor belt is usually when you remember the eggs, which are conveniently located at the back of the shop. Contemplating the journey back with two children is when you begin to understand how Burke and Wills felt when they knew they were going to die.
The stress of wondering if the store’s security officer will grab you on the shoulder as you leave doesn’t help the checkout experience. Nor does your children disappearing outside the shop while you search in vain for your rewards card. At least my children always head directly to the bottle shop as they know that’s exactly where Dad will be going next.
The one joy I get from shopping is if when leaving I’m accosted by a charity mugger who claims to be raising awareness for mental illness. I candidly recount the previous 40 minutes of my life and they soon understand that I know all about mental illness.
And, don’t even get me started on taking children anywhere near a shop with toys in it. Suffice to say, should you ever want to know what your child will behave like should it develop an addiction later in life, simply take them into a toy shop and then refuse to buy them one.
Lastly, there’s nothing unsafe about leaving children in the car in an underground car park.