Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Joy Of Supermarket

This post originally appeared in Practical Parenting Magazine, October 2010

Lots of people really, really hate shopping with kids. Not me. I like to get out and about running errands with my two tiny buddies. Sure, it can take complex preparation, mild painkilling medication, and an injection of takeaway coffee (straight into the vein, if I can find a specialty barista.) But once I give over to the chaos, the supermarket is the last place left for this Mama to get a consumer kick. When you add people and subtract income from a family budget, there’s not much room left for days spent skipping blithely through a food court with boutique bags weighing down the wrist. A trolley full of nappy wipes and capsicums is the next best thing.

There are two factors that keep my shopping expeditions on track: preparation, and the art of Zen. I am armed heavily with snacks, and have come to terms with the fact that I left control of my life at the doors of the birthing suite. I’m ready for any situation to go in any possible direction, at any minute. Currently, I am prepared for this:

3. The kids will laugh in the face of logic.

Teddy doesn’t like me to place my hands on the trolley handle when pushing it through the supermarket. ‘No, Mama, no hands,’ he orders every time I try and move us along. ‘There are laws of physics, darling,’ I explain gently. ‘Mummy can’t move the trolley though my powers of mind control.’ ‘Stop HANDS, Mama!’ he insists. It is taking us a long time at present to complete a circuit of BiLo.

1. The kids will embarrass me in inventive ways.

Recently, searching the aisles for some random item, I spotted a young shelf-packer. ‘Excuse me, ‘I said, rolling up to him with Teddy in the toddler seat. ‘Do you know where…?’ Shelf-Boy looked up, and in that moment, Ted reached out and pulled my top down to my waist, exposing a full expanse of once-white bra. Time slowed.

I grappled with Teddy, simultaneously proud and horrified that he seemed to have developed the grip of a professional walnut-cracker. The moment was interminable. ‘Never mind,’ I eventually choked out and drove on, knockers out and waving in the wind, to the muted strains of Michael Buble. It’s true that Keith and I like to call the Canadian crooner ‘Swinging Bubes’, but on that occasion Teddy really took things a step too far.

2. The kids will win.

One memorable day, Ivy – aged two - threw the worst tantrum she’d ever had. It went for forty full minutes. In between shrieking fits, she did quiet moaning exercises, gathering energy for the next attack. I tried desperately to ignore it all, and as it wound down into small hiccoughing gulps, attempted some positive psychology. 'Ivy, you've done a good job controlling yourself for the last few minutes. If you can keep up this happy behavior you can have a balloon from the lady at the door.’ On the way home, with my Stern Voice on, I said ‘Ivy, that was very, very naughty, what you did at the shops. What was going on there?' Ivy was happy to talk though what she learned. 'I did cry and cry and cry, ' she said thoughtfully. 'And then Mummy did give me a balloon.’


  1. My little guys told the check out lady a few weeks ago "I can see your boobies" and the middle girl once picked up a glass jar of pasta sauce and dropped it from the trolley.......

  2. My issue-du-jour whilst shopping is trying to stop William whipping his tool out and performing random acts of urination on anything even remotely resembling a plant. There are some well-watered fake pants in our neck of the woods. Awkward.

  3. Chet loves the supermarket. I often ask him what he wants to do and he either says "supermarket" or "charity shop" in a hopeful voice. He knows that both places could provide unexpected pieces of Thomas merchandise and that is enough for him. And he also doesn't like me to use my hands to push the trolley - it makes a lap around Aldi sometime time consuming.

  4. That is so funny - I just read this at rach graysons the other day - in print, in the actual magazine. id not seen you in print and i was sooo excited. great article. made me snort!! L

  5. Cohen is also of the opinion that my hands should not be anywhere near the trolley handle and bats them away. I've found that he is much happier if I turn the trolley 180' around and push it from the front. He's much happier looking towards where we are going than seeing me. I just have to be mindful of my shins when pushing the trolley this way.

    Great article!

  6. Much nodding.

    We have had some *accidental* shoplifting go on (someone at Big W still can't account for the three missing pairs of swimming goggles) and a few smashed jars from times when the "helping" at the checkout is not at all helpful.

    Lovely column, as always.

  7. You're too funny, Mogantosh!

    You can go to the shops for me. I hate going to the shops and the petrol station.

  8. Needed this today, Rach. Shani's latest pales by comparison: She waits till she's within striking range, makes eye-contact with her subject, then says clearly and sweetly, "I hate you. I just hate you."

  9. "Swinging Bubes" is the best thing I've ever heard.
    I've just emailed my colleagues at Warner Music to request that he be addressed as such from now on.

  10. That's hilarious. At least you can be thankful for the bra I suppose! Kellie xx


Thanks for talking to me. I don't got cooties. Oh, except for when I got cooties.