You’re having a nice day. Nice in that no child has inflicted grievous bodily harm on another child as yet and your kitchen cupboards are still on their hinges. You’ve even found 2.75 minutes to make yourself a cuppa. Lovely. Just pop a spoonful of coffee granules in, head to the fridge for milk, open the fridge……freeze.
Where’s the milk?
WHERE’S THE MILK?????!!!
You’re out of milk.
You.are.out.of.milk. The more you repeat it in your head, the faster the sickening reality washes over you. You’ll need to go to the shops.
Operation kids-in-car gets underway and 3 hours and 27 minutes later everyone’s in the car. You pat yourself on the back for beating last week’s 3.5 hour record and set off.
You just about make it to the supermarket. You’ve survived missiles hurtling at you from the back seat for the last 3 miles. Then Child 1 falls out of car and his knee makes slight contact with tarmac. His shriek is monstrously disproportionate to the wound (there is no wound) and people are starting to look at you in a ‘there must be Social Services involvement‘ kind of way. Child 2 bumps head on car wing mirror on way to trolley. More disproportionate crying. Lots of kisses, cuddles and two children airlifted to seats in trolley. Yes your choice of a trolley is wildly extravagant when you only need milk but it boasts the advantage of being able to single-handedly restrain two children at once. Beautiful things trolleys.
You Made It!
You make it in. One child has already started whinging again but out of the corner of your eye you notice the reassuring proximity of the in-store off-licence.
You take the corners wide, the weight of the kids in the trolley anchoring it to a tight arc while you’re flung in a giant semi-circle, almost taking out an OAP on the way round.
Thinking only of milk, you power up one aisle then another: But, oh shit, in your haste you’ve made a novice error. You’ve gone up the toy aisle. You don’t even register your mistake until you hear ‘stoooooooopp mummmmeeeeeee!!!!!!!!‘ coming from the trolley. You try to stay calm. Deep breaths. Think woman, think. Do you power on and risk all hell breaking loose in the form of flailing limbs and ear-drum mincing shrieks, or do you stop and let them look at the toy (ALL the toys, every last effing toy) and risk adding hours, days even, on to your outing?
You decide to power on. Focus on a point in the distance. Cue child shouting. Cue limbs flailing. Cue flailing limbs hitting other child. Cue other child crying now too. Bloody hell. You can feel the beads of sweat trickling down your forehead but you stay calm.
You offer the yogurt aisle as as a peace-bribe. It’s accepted and you chuck in an assortment of Peppa Pig, Thomas the Tank and Minion yoghurts, basically a milk tanker load of strawberry fromage frais but all packaged differently to tediously link it to a myriad of kids’ TV programs. Fromage blinkin’ fraud more like.
You keep pounding the never-ending floor and ignore the disapproving looks you’re getting from other shoppers.
Children have now gone from shouting and crying at you to hysterical laughing with each other. A good thing to the untrained, but potentially worse than crying to the veteran parent. The outcomes of hysterical laughing range from them starting to chuck things at strangers to singing songs about farts at the top of their lungs.
Finally you reach the milk aisle. You throw in a couple of cartons then hot-foot it to the nearby biscuit aisle. You’re not going through all this to be denied some refined sugar. You don’t think about what you’re choosing and to keep the peace there are also a couple of packets of Barneys and Party Rings thrown in too. Done. Now to the checkout (via wine aisle).
Lots of laughing, occasional crying and a mild threat of violence coming from the trolley now.
The checkout operator is too bloody cheerful for your liking. She’s starting to make small talk. Hell to the no, not the small talk. ‘Please can I just leave!‘ you cry inside. But her small talk game is strong and relentless. Eventually you give in and discuss the weather in uncomfortable detail. Wails from the direction of the trolley pepper the conversation (one-sided shite-spurting) you’re having with the relaxed checkout lady. You look up from packing your groceries into your bag (stuffing them in any which way – think aggressive Tetris) and see Child 1 assaulting Child 2. Whoever invented trolleys with double seats clearly had no kids. As you wonder why the heck the kids seats aren’t at opposite ends of the trolley rather than side-by-side, you’re handed your change and receipt and bid a ‘nice day’ by your new retail friend.
Get to the Car!
The bag of shopping has just about made contact with the metal of the trolley when the cries begin, demanding ‘their thing’ out of the bag. You railroad it to the car, pluck a kid at a time from the trolley and place into the back seat of the car. You leave the trolley back. And finally, you get into the car and sink into the warm accepting driver’s seat with a bum indent that fits your derrière perfectly. Yet never will you hear a judgemental word from him when you’re shovelling your 5th Kit Kat into your face at the lights.
You feel deflated but jubilant at the same time. You’re battle-scarred, war-torn and exhausted. But you saw that supermarket and you conquered, and you arose from the flames victorious, clutching your 2L carton.
Now to get home for that cuppa (better make it an Irish).