SHOPPING WITH CHILDREN: DAILY MADNESS. OR BETTER: LONG LIVE SMILING SALES CLERKS
Like any family, we too, have our favourite tasks. For example, I'm happy to do the shopping. At least for groceries, that is. But shopping with small children is something for experts.
It all begins with the decision about whether to put the child in the seat of the shopping cart or let him run around the Lidl supermarket. Whatever the decision, it will be the wrong one. So, I always obey the orders of the little despot "down, down" or "up," and play "baby up and down and up and down." Every now and then I get to put a jar of jam or bread or something else in the cart. But it is always just a secondary activity and parallel to the first job, namely: keep an eye on the toddler.
Entertaining the child and focusing on the shopping: it’s not that I do a great job
Multi-tasking? I would say that I can’t do it. In fact, I read that performing various tasks at the same time is harmful. You should be able to concentrate on what you’re doing; a concept that I like. Speaking of concentrating on what you’re doing... Completely immersed in price comparison of yogurt, I didn't notice that I had left my son (sitting in the cart) close to the eggs. And since a kid has to do what kids have to do, there are three eggs on the floor. Omelette. A mother, clearly perfectly multi-tasking with one child in a baby wrap, a toddler in hand and an overflowing shopping cart, shakes her head: "These are things you should know". Thanks, very useful.
I hope your daughter throws a tantrum at the checkout
The Lidl sales clerk comes quickly to the rescue. She is really nice and puts everything in order in an instant. Can I pay for the broken eggs? You don't have to! This is paradise! Thank you.
There she is, in the queue at the checkout. The know-it-all mother is right in front of me. I can't stand her. And now I can stand her even less, because she is breastfeeding the baby while she is standing and putting the groceries on the belt and at the same time refusing the other child some candy, all at the same time with her calm and detached manner.
I'm tempted to pull out my cell phone and get a picture to prove that aliens exist.
But common sense tells me that I would be taken for a pervert who is obsessed with breasts and breastfeeding. Forget the phone.
My prayers were answered
The little girl explodes in the hoped-for tantrum. The mother takes her by the arm and goes past the cashier. In so doing, she inadvertently removes the nursing baby from the breast which starts to cry. The mother, finally stressed, drops her open wallet.
OK, all right. But why are my prayers not heard when I ask that my child falls asleep before nine o'clock? I bend down and pick up the coins. Some people in the queue, for sure without children, nervously change registers. Should I pray that they’ll soon have triplets?
The cashier gives the little girl in tears some figurines, collects coins scattered on the conveyor belt, pushes the last jars of baby food into the bag of the alien in disguise and smiles encouragingly. Sometimes you just need a smiling face.
It’s contagious. Even the mother relaxes and gives me an embarrassed smile. Then she rolls her eyes with a conspiratorial look and I realize this is not an alien, but a human being. And we're in the same boat. And what happened, after all, was my fault.
When I get home, a just-as-tired mother opens the door
I give her a push, clearly as a joke, onto the sofa, pass her a blanket and take the children to their room to play. She looks distraught. “I’ll look after both, you rest. Even mothers, after all, are only human.”