I seem to spend a disproportionate amount of my dad days trudging around supermarkets. Not content with an excruciating morning trudge around the aisles I will manage to forget something vital and guarantee myself an afternoon trudge too. The experience tends to be traumatic for father and son alike. I know you’re thinking that all this talk of trudge and trauma is a bit melodramatic but Max is not one of the angelic toddlers that glide elegantly past us in the frozen peas section, the ones that are sitting back and soaking up the experience as if they are a passenger on the Orient Express. From the moment I brush off his animated pleas for a ride on the $2 car at the entrance to the “flybys?” enquiry (5 years into life in Down Under and I still have no idea what they are asking me) at its conclusion, the supermarket experience is accompanied by writhing, screaming, throwing and on occasion shop lifting.
Like any parental challenge I have devised a strategy or two to make the experience more bearable. Small fruit is the first key to less trauma, fruit that seems innocuous enough that you can take a little handful at the beginning of your journey without it feeling like you’re actually stealing. Grapes, cherries, lychees if you’re feeling particularly brave, all work well. Every time the protests reach an unacceptable level I have a sneaky look over both shoulders to ensure no stealth shelf stackers can witness the crime going down and pop a grape into the gaping gap created by a screaming toddler and enjoy 4 whole seconds of serenity.
When the fruit stocks are running low we head to the nappy aisle. A strange choice you might think, how could that possibly ease the pain? Simple, I plonk Max in front of the various brands and then ask him which one of the beautiful children on the packaging he would (a) befriend (b) marry, or (c) share a casual kiss with. I’m afraid I genuinely do this; I ask it just loud enough for Max to hear but nobody else, such behaviour would surely be frowned upon. This exercise has taught me that my son has a penchant for little blonde haired blue eyed hotties but finds brunettes make better wife material – other hair colours are not well represented on nappy packaging.
With Max high on love, lust and small fruit we make a dash for the check out. I look at the items that fill my trolley and realise that everything has been purchased with Max in mind; this is why I sometimes find myself sucking frantically on a Rafferty’s Garden sachet. We face one final hurdle before we can get the hell out of there, Max’s nemesis Middle Aged Chinese Lady Check-Out Chick. As mentioned in a previous post (https://daddownunder.wordpress.com/2012/09/16/my-son-the-superhero/) Check-Out Chick insists on coming out from behind her counter and squeezing Max’s cheeks a little harder than he is comfortable with much to his obvious disgust, she also never forgets to ask him “where’s mummy” and “is mummy at work” much to my disgust.
When we get home I will often find that Max has pilfered a little something something and stashed it under an obliging buttock, usually something rubbish like stock cubes or a stick of celery. I have now taken to loitering around the chocolate aisle in the hope that he might take the hint and steal something useful – I am going straight to parent hell aren’t I?