Tag Archives: shopping

V is for Vulnerable


V is for Vulnerable

V is for Vulnerable

We spend our lives building up our ability to deal with the sometimes horrible things that life can throw at us. In fact, employers often see that resilience as being a good thing, having someone that will soldier on when everyone or everything around them might be falling apart.

And for the most part, it’s a good thing, unless we take it too far and it becomes uncaring or leaves unable to let anyone in and heading into loneliness territory.

Then you have children and you get to start all over again.

Some of those worries you had relegated to the “forget about it pile” come back in full strength.

What if I die? Have I made enough provisions for the kids? If I lose my job (thank you very much recession!) will I be able to keep a roof over our heads? Who’s going to take care of things if I get sick (and let’s face it no one looks after us mums when we get sick – sorry dads, but it’s true)?

And that’s just the vulnerabilities we have ourselves. What about all the ones we adopt on behalf of our children?

What if they fall off the swing and have to suffer the pain of scrapes and bruises? What if another child is mean to them at playgroup? How will they feel if a strange adult pushes in front of them as if they were beneath notice when they’re queuing to buy their very own copy of their favouritist, favouritist magazine?

How can a toddler fall over so often, and so spectacularly, which a certain small girl does at least 10 times before breakfast, without apparently suffering any ill effects apart from dirty hands (which she hates)? I watch her and I’m sure that within the hour we’d be waiting for the paramedics if I fell over even a quarter as much, and that’s if we were lucky.

There is a positive side to this added vulnerability we have. How many of us are more aware of what we are doing to the environment, or adopt a healthier diet because they need proper food whilst they’re growing up?

How about the life-long heavy metal fan who is quite happy sitting there in a glittery tiara whilst drinking pretend tea from a pink cup they could barely fit their little finger into? (Yes, Other Half. It is coming!) Or the body builder walking down the road carrying a Dora the Explorer back pack and the My Little Pony that wouldn’t quite be corralled inside it? Or the mother who will adopt whichever character name that’s been assigned to them for the day (today it’s Dashi – we’re back in Octonauts mode)?

How about showing our children that it’s all right to be caring and sensitive towards the needs of others? Or giving them a sense that they have some control over their lives, since daddy will comply with the tea-party-etiquette, as laid down by them, without any argument?

Yes, having children does make us more vulnerable when it comes to threats to them, but in dealing with those threats we get the opportunity to show our children the best of ourselves and give them something positive to aspire to.

And maybe that’s a vulnerability for us to aspire to.

You’ll have to excuse me now. Someone’s just sounded the Octoalert.

Camels, Cakes and Manners

It was time for the traditional trip to Mainsgill Farm, obligatory when we visit family in North Yorkshire. Mini and Motormouth love the place for so many reasons.

There are the huge cakes.

The child-sized pedal tractors.

The sand pit.

And the camels.

I like milk too!

I like milk too!

That’s right, camels, in Yorkshire, and this time they even had a baby camel to coo over.

Mini found the llamas funny but decided the goats needed a good telling off for being curious about her. One poor goat kept sticking its head through the fence to get a closer look at small girl in a tasty-looking red coat only to have a finger wagged in its face accompanied by a stern “No!” I’m not sure how the goat took it, but we were pretty impressed by her channelling of.. well… me, I suppose. (Not that I can see the resemblance.)

Moove over, lunch is here

Moove over, lunch is here

It’s always a joy to see Motormouth and Mini getting excited about seeing different animals. Mini in particular loved the cows and kept wanting to go back and see them. I think the cows were more interested in lunch. As adults, we were most interested in the camels. And the cakes.

Have I mentioned the cakes yet? Meringue roulades as big as your head, cream cakes the size of grapefruit and slabs of rocky road that the Romans would have found useful when they were laying their streets (in a good way).

It’s also slightly scary to see how high Mini wants to go on the swings (head height for the Other Half). All we could hear was her screaming “whee” at the peak of the swing. That and my gulping as I try to ignore the height thing.

It was in the restaurant where we had an interesting experience (in a less-than-positive sense of the word). I was standing with the Mini and Motormouth at a table waiting while the Other Half got a high chair for Mini when an older couple decided they wanted the table we were at, so they came and sat down there, telling us to move out of the way, admittedly with a superior sort of smile.

I was so gob smacked I didn’t say anything, plus I’m always conscious of the example I’m setting the kids. So we moved to another table rather than cause a scene.

That’s the question though, isn’t it? Do we show our kids how to stand up for themselves and risk starting a public argument which can so easily descend into something more than a civilised, if heated, exchange of views? Or do we take the moral high ground and move on with grace? Is that the same as giving in and rolling over?

And what do we do when our children ask us why they have to wait their turn and be polite when their elders seem to feel it’s their right to push their way to getting what they want? Today was just one example, but it’s not uncommon for it to happen to us in supermarket queues.

Today I decided not to push the issue, mainly because I wasn’t sure I’d be able to remain polite in the face of the oily rudeness we experienced. And I don’t want my children to see me behave like that. Not after all the hard work we’ve all put into developing their understanding and skills about interacting with others. It’s not fair for them to have a hypocrite for a teacher. It’s hard to explain to Motormouth that some people just don’t understand, or care, what good manners are. Or that they fail to grasp the concept that if you want respect from others you have to show respect to others.

I’m still not sure I made the right decision.

All I can do is put my faith in karma. Someday they’ll push in front of someone who won’t hold back.

1… 2… 3…

I don't want...

I don’t want…

It’s been a week of numbers, well, the first three anyway.


Motormouth has developed An Attitude.

I know it comes to every child, and therefore every parent, but it’s hit us hard and fast.

I have to admit, we were probably getting a little complacent (or dare I say it even smug) since Motormouth has generally given us an easy ride. Of course we’ve had the odd tantrum here and there (and two notable melt-downs) but nothing that has lasted or caused real problems.

But the last week?

We seem to have had a changeling in our midst.

Suddenly we have this small bundle of angry attitude that has been going off at the slightest provocation. It’s like he’s been practising to be a November 5th firework.

I don’t want to go the silly doctors! (It wasn’t his appointment.)

I don’t want to go to bed! (Pretty much a standard protest I know.)

I don’t want to eat my dinner! (Even though it was exactly what he’d asked for.)

I don’t want to get dressed!

I don’t want to clean my teeth!

I don’t want to go to the child minder!

I don’t want to watch silly Cartoonito/Nick Jr/CBBC…!

We’ve been struggling to find out what he does want. We’re still working on it.

It’s been difficult to identify why he has been so volatile. He’s not been eating anything different. No chocolate and no fizzy drinks. He’s had the same involvement in choosing what he’s eating, what he wears and where we go as he usually does.

The only thing that has changed is that Mini is going to the same child minder he goes to. (He is due to go to a playgroup for a couple of days a week now.) Motormouth has told us he is happy about this. He loves spending time with Mini and, even though she is nearly 16 months old, he still has to introduce her to everyone they meet. He really wants to go to playgroup as well and was jumping up and down with excitement about it tonight, so I don’t think it’s that.

It’s left us scratching our heads.

It’s also left us with rapidly diminishing options with regards to punishment. Most of his toys are in black bin bags where he refused to help tidy up. He hasn’t quite understood he needs to help tidy up to start earning them back. He had no television over the weekend. We didn’t go to the park. He didn’t get jelly for desert.

I knew we would have to develop patience and thick skins, not to mention a variety of ways to address issues when we needed to, but there are some unexpected quirks we need to learn to deal with. The main thing I have learned from the last week … I need to think more quickly on my feet.

Me – Where have your manners gone?

Motormouth – Soccerboy took them. (Soccerboy is an older friend of his).

Me – uh… (trying not to laugh and working out what the heck I was supposed to say – I didn’t want to ruin the responsible parenting aura I am trying to affect).

Me – Tidy your toys up before dinner please.

Motormouth – No.

Me – Right, your toys go into a bin bag then.

Motormouth – No, you can’t do that.

The Other Half walks in from work

Motormouth – Daddy, mummy’s been horrible and taken all my toys.

And the classic?

“Mummy you’ve upset me. You should go to your room and think about what you’ve done.”

This one still makes me laugh.

We are also more used to being “those parents”, you know, the ones you look at with either sympathy or irritation depending on your views on their parenting style, as they haul a toddler out of the shop tucked under their arm, a toddler moreover that is screaming at the top of their voice.

I know that this is a passing stage and we will soon get the normal, smiling, happy, mischievious but polite child that we know and love instead of the little boy who announces to me that he’s “a grumpy boy today”.

Of course we love this one too but he’s so much more tiring.

T is for Timing


Toddlers (and babies) have such a perfect sense of timing it has to be experienced to be believed.

If it’s not the noisy filling of a nappy just before you are about to walk out of the door, it’s the extraction of an item from your handbag (in my case a sanitary towel) with a screeched “what’s this for mummy?” by the supermarket fish counter.

Both have happened to me several times before and will no doubt happen again.

When they do, you always have to choose what your reaction is going to be.

It’s a dilemma.

Do you change the nappy before you go or can you wait until you get there? If you wait and you’re dropping them off at the childminder, can you get away with pretending they did it on the way (this is easier before they can talk and drop you in it)? Not that I would ever do it, of course.

Often you only have a few seconds to decide what your response is going to be.

I can’t remember my exact answer in the sanitary towel incident; I was too busy trying to play it down, but it was probably something along the lines of “it’s something that ladies use, ooh, look at that squid.”

The other talent my child has is a sure knowledge of when we have to be at a particular place at a particular time.

That’s when he decides he doesn’t want to get dressed, so you have to have to chase a naked boy around the house until you can pin him into a corner. Then you realise his clothes are just out of reach. We’ve tried not telling him we are going somewhere, that we can’t go if we are late and everything in between. The only thing we haven’t done is construct the sort of funnel farmers use to heard sheep towards the shearer.

Hmm… that could be the next option.

Whatever they say or do, the only way you can deal with it and retain any sanity is to laugh about it.

Once you have got over the stress of trying to be out of the door on time.



Ten Step Guide to… Supermarket Shopping With Your Toddler




Welcome to the third Ten Step Guide. Today we tackle that necessary evil grocery shopping.

Step 1 Check your cupboards. Make a list of the items you need, organising it by aisle at the supermarket for most efficient use of your time, having planned the meals for the week based on criteria of nutritional value and variety. And the new diet plan you want to start.

 Step 2 Plan the optimum timing for your visit based on the level of hunger or tiredness you expect your toddler to have achieved. Fail to clamber through your window of opportunity as you forget to factor in your toddler’s sudden obsession with finding dead snails on the way to the car.

 Step 3 Drive round the car park slowly in order to witness losing the last parent and toddler parking space to someone in a 4×4. Restrain yourself from using language you do not want your toddler to repeat in the vegetable aisle as you note the driver leaping out of their car and head towards the shop leaving their invisible children locked in the car. In their invisible car seats. Drive around the car park again and find the only space that you can fit into and park, using precision driving skills to leave 6″ to open the doors on either side of the vehicle. Remind yourself again to clear out non essential items from the boot (such as buggies, spare tyre etc) to offer an alternative entrance route to your car to compensate for the vehicle that will park next to you whilst you are shopping leaving a 4″ gap.

 Step 4 Choose a trolley and plug a token into the slot to release it whilst keeping an eye and one hand on your toddler. Discover the trolley will not steer straight on any surface. Nudge the trolley back into its nest. Test drive other trolleys until you find one that you can steer single handed. Pick up the trolley token you dropped, trying not to catch your hair in one of the protuberances that trolley designers have included for aesthetic value. Unwedge your toddler from the empty trolley they have tried to climb into via the swinging hatch thing.

 Step 5 Realise that you have left the carefully compiled shopping list at home and try to remember what you wanted to buy, hoping that your mental picture is not of the one from three weeks ago. Start down the aisles answering the random questions of your toddler about everything and everyone you pass. Eventually agree to allow them time to look at the toys in order to stop them asking that particular question with every second step.

 Step 6 Reprioritise the order in which you will buy your items to ensure you can get the essentials (ie toilet paper and yoghurt) before you have to leave the supermarket with a screaming child to avoid prosecution under the noise abatement laws. Try to put the sneaking suspicion that Environmental Health have already circulated your details to all the shops in the local area to the back of your mind.

 Step 7 Use extreme distraction tactics as your pass the children’s magazines to avoid being asked to buy the one with the brightest and most fragile toys as you continue shopping. Expect the questions to be asked at approximately 4 second intervals.

 Step 8 Pull your trolley into the side of the aisle in order not to inconvenience other shoppers and explain to your toddler, again, that it is not appropriate to try and ride under the trolley. Or swing from the handlebars. Or hang off the sides. Threaten to make them sit in the seat, praying the threat will be enough as you assess the difficulty of getting them into the seat. Or out again.

 Step 9 Check the contents of your trolley at regular intervals and remove any items that you do not recall putting in there, placing them discreetly in the nearest gap on the shelf. Retrace your steps when you realise you left the loo roll next to the cornflakes and blame baby brain. Again. Stifle a sigh of relief at the thought of escaping a situation where your significant other is caught without the necessary disposable materials.

 Step 10 Calculate which items your toddler can safely handle, either putting into the trolley or placing on the conveyer belt, organising them in the trolley in such a way that you can relocate the fragile objects before they are exposed to toddler treatment. Attempt to reverse this process whilst packing, paying and wrangling your toddler.

 Warning   Do not expect every shopping trip to go this well. Alternatively, you could shop on line.

Wailing Whales


Motormouth would tell you this is an orca.

Motormouth would tell you this is an orca.

I had the unenviable experience of trawling round the supermarket today with a hyperactive Motormouth, a hungry Mini whilst the Other Half was safely at work.

Not one of the simpler tasks for a mother.

Motormouth was trying to convince me that his legs hurt and he needed to sit down (this was of course just after he decided to stop riding on the end of the trolley and just before he went running down the aisle in search of sausage rolls).

I gave in and pointed to a handy chair by the pharmacy. Close enough that I could see him and far enough away that I could have at least a few seconds without a small boy swinging off whichever part of the trolley vicinity he decided was handy enough. (He is an equal opportunity hanger so, yes, this did include the pusher of the trolley. I am sure I will recover my balance. Given time.)

When he finally sat down I noticed an odd phenomenon.

He and Mini continued communicating.

I had sort of tuned out her calls of ‘adaah’ as we trundled up and down the aisles and I desperately tried not to forget anything that was on the list I’d forgotten to bring with me.

Then Motormouth started calling out ‘adaah’. And Mini would respond.

This went on for the rest of the shopping trip. One would call and the other would respond.

Every so often Motormouth would return to Mini for some physical contact. This would usually consist of licking her feet. (Don’t ask. I have no idea why he has started that, I’m just glad he confines his attentions to her.)

I know he has been trying to teach Mini some words as well as some of the signs we use. (She will already sign for nappy change and can recognise quite a few others signs, though she hasn’t deigned to use them yet.)

He will also inform us when she has asked for or needs something. It’s not uncommon for a cry of “She needs her nappy changed!” to be followed by “She’s a stinky girl!” It’s always loud. Motormouth is not a quiet child.

I know whales can communicate for miles through the ocean with their calls. I’m glad that our two are happy to confine it to the length of the supermarket.