Supermarkets have never been my favourite place. Since having a baby though, they have become one of my enemies. It comes to something when shopping alone feels like a holiday. On my own, I run down the aisles in wanton abandon, chucking in things I like to eat and my apples are never half bitten when I get home.
With a baby or toddler, it’s hell on earth.
Just getting to the supermarket and parking is an achievement. If you can dodge the old people driving up the wrong way of the car parks one way system, and manage to get a parent and child space, you should buy a lottery ticket as it’s your lucky day. (By the way, I always feel guilty when I do get one like I shouldn’t be using them. I look around and think people are watching me. Suspicious I may be childless in a parents parking space. Paranoid? Moi?)
Once in the car park, it’s the decision of what trolley to use. Before Bubs was born, I didn’t even realise that shopping trolleys had advanced to the stage of having different baby seats dependent on age/size of baby. I thought it was wonderful being able to take the actual car seat and place on top of the trolley in a very convenient tray. Until I actually had to shop with it.
Using one of these trolleys is akin to pushing a armoured tank around a playground. You can’t see anything or anyone, and you are desperately trying not to run anything over. The baby is strapped into this tray but one false move and you think it’ll topple over.
Baby’s cry in the supermarket. Hell, I want to cry as well. I probably was one of the other shoppers tutting and looking at the mum and baby tank combo in a sort of disapproving way once. When Bubs was a baby, my only solution was to hold a bottle to feed Bubs as I pushed the trolley with the other. Quite a skill, actually. I could’ve let her scream a bit more I guess but I was trying to hold together the strands of my nerves and remember where I was and what I was doing.
As Bubs gets older, it is clear she really does not like a supermarket. The big kids’ trolley seat is now hers, and I’ve timed it that I can get a good 10-15 minutes of this novelty seat which can get me past the fruit and veg and well into the cold aisles before she tires of waving hello at everyone and trying to chew the actual trolley.
Then I pull out my weapon: a biscuit. I quickly tear the wrapper off and offer this dangling carrot to Bubs, quickly as I am scared the shop will think I haven’t bought the biscuit yet and accuse me of stealing when I actually did buy it last week. I can also give myself time by emptying the contents of my handbag for her to hold/chew/throw.
A few times, I have been stupid enough to go into the supermarket with the buggy, and no trolley. I pick up a basket. How the hell am I supposed to hold a basket and push a buggy? Shouldn’t someone invent a clever basket holding buggy device? As well as kicking the basket around the shop, Bubs does not like being in the buggy. And will cry. And scream. How many biscuits are too many in a supermarket emergency such as this?
A last resort is to let her loose on the reins. Abandoning the buggy, kicking the basket and holding on for dear life as she tears along the aisles. Glass jars are her favourite target. Once I’ve regained control and shoved a bottle of gin in my basket, and herded her to the checkout, I’m almost free.
That’s when you realise you haven’t bought anything you actually need and have a bottle of gin, a chewed apple, a loaf of bread and leaflets from the advertising space in your trolley.
That’s when you do the supermarket sweep and run around in a mad frenzy trying to buy something that will look like a meal.