Posted by: Paul | January 23, 2010

“I wish to register a complaint”

We, by choice, don’t buy our groceries online. An awful lot of people with kids do, and some of them look at me rather strangely when I say this, as if it’s a pre-requisite for the job of being a parent. But the simple fact is that I’m a bit neurotic and don’t really trust anyone to do anything for me when I can do it myself – lest they do a poor job and I have to complain about the result.

I hate complaining. I mean, obviously I complain all the time about everything like every self-respecting English person does. But only ever to friends and family, after the fact, well out of the way of anyone who can relay the complaint back to the party responsible. After all, we wouldn’t want to offend anyone would we?

Why do we do this? Particularly the middle class, we have this horror of upsetting anyone. I think it actively prevents me from doing many things in life. I would love to extend our house but I am crippled by the fear of builders – if anything goes wrong, I absolutely dread having to complain about it to them and set it right.

Anyway, its exactly these reasons which mean every weekend we pack toddler into the car and troop off to the local Tesco. And today it was just myself and the boy, while Mummy went to the gym. Cue “Inept Dad Gets Hoodwinked, scene 1”.

First rule of going to the shops with a child – what you say, goes. Do not under any circumstances accede to demands, pressure, coercion, tantrums or otherwise methods of blackmail. First rule broken today – Rule 1.

Adam wants to get out of the trolley. I say no, but realise his wellies are cutting into the backs of his legs, so he’s better off upright so they don’t dangle awkwardly. So, he’s deposited on the floor and held firmly by the hand while I push an awkwardly stacked, heavy trolley with the other. Being held by one hand means that he has the other free, and it’s actually quite surprising how much chaos a single two-year-old hand can cause, especially in the microseconds when I let go of him to avert some kind of huge trolley-related accident.

So he’s now having a whale of a time, careering around picking random objects from shelves. No Adam, Toby The Cat does not eat dog food. But we’re at the last aisle, and the time has come to get back in the trolley. Oh no. Think it’s difficult trying to get an uncooperative cat into a basket? Try the same operation and swap “basket” for “shopping trolley”, and “uncooperative cat” for “screaming, wiggling, dribbling two year old”.

It took a good five minutes of struggle, plus assorted pleading, shouting, bribing and so on from Daddy. So the next time, Rule number 1 will be stuck to, Rigidly. It’s enough to make anyone turn to online shopping.


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