Monday, February 3, 2014

Meet Me in the Middle

When did Victor become so difficult to take out anywhere? It's like the past couple of weeks he's decided to let all good behaviour fly out the window as soon as we step foot into a public area. This morning I would have said that I never remember Felix acting this way; but vague, suppressed memories are coming back to me now...better stop remembering, it's too exhausting to think about.

Anyway, today I had to run a lot of errands, mainly just picking up the last few things that Felix needs for school (he's starting on Wednesday!). We started at the supermarket and the fruit and veg shop, with both boys in the trolley. It went smoothly. We then had to stop into Officeworks to get Felix some stationery items, and this is where things started getting a bit crazy.

Victor saw the crowded store, he saw the scissors and pens and paper all at his level, and decided this was his big moment. He managed to wriggle away from me, several times, and bolt through the store. I spent most of the time there chasing after him. I only needed to pick up four items: I came away with three.

I wrangled him into the car and then we went to the fabric shop down the street. I thought it would be better in here, hopefully a lot quieter and surely he couldn't get up to much with big rolls of fabric?

Well, as you can imagine, I spent the majority of time chasing after him in this store too. I just wanted to get a nice sturdy black cotton fabric and a contrasting pattern. Felix chose his patterned fabric from a table of fat quarters. I chased Victor up and down the store while trying to look for a decent fabric, in black, and nothing too expensive. Because although he couldn't do too much damage to the rolls of fabric, I totally forgot that they sell other things too...and once again, he was presented with scissors, needles, packets of pins, thread, and all kinds of craft materials right at his level.

Eventually I found some black fabric, and I hauled it under one arm, while holding a wriggling Victor sideways under the other, to the counter to pay for it. By this time Felix had actually taken the wrapper off the fat quarter, but I stuck it on top and we were all good. While I was trying to pay, Victor ran off again, and then an old lady asked me if I was pregnant. (The answer was a resounding no, and I said it with such conviction I think she was actually offended).

We finally got home and I decided that we were not going out in public, ever again, without the stroller handy to restrain small children in; or maybe a leash and a muzzle. I'm only sort of joking.

I wonder how our shopping trip would have appeared from an onlooker's point of view?

I know that there is a large chunk of the population that doesn't take kindly to small children being loud and disruptive in public. While Victor never had a tantrum; in fact, he thought the whole thing was a fantastic game--I understand that running in the store is not generally acceptable in polite society.

While talking to the staff at the fabric store, I tried explaining that he was due for lunch and then a nap. They asked how old he is (20 months!). I got a small smile and not much else.

I know how it looked. Mother comes in with two small children that she can't control. Why can't she just do her shopping when she has a babysitter? Why can't she control that child?

Well, I'll tell you why. I don't have people babysit the kids on a regular basis. They are with me all the time, and when I do have someone available to babysit I'd rather use that time to do something more fun than back to school shopping.

And Victor is being a normal almost-two-year-old. He is trying to learn how to behave in stores...boring stores that don't have even one toy in them. He didn't want to be there. He didn't get a choice in the matter, and neither did I. He will learn, though, eventually. I'm accepting full responsibility and next time I will be better prepared.

I know people want their stores to be relatively calm. I know that people don't need the stress of worrying if a toddler is about to knock over a large display of bobbins (or whatever).

And I don't need the stress of it either. I think there is a way around this situation to make it work for everyone.

I will be better prepared by making shopping trips as quick as possible and having a stroller for Victor to sit in and possibly something to distract him with. It's probably the only way to make shopping a feasible experience, until he is old enough to be reasoned with (or bribed effectively).

And shopkeepers, you can start by running straight over to the mother struggling with two children and ask if she needs a hand. She'll say "yes, I need sturdy black cotton fabric, please." And then you can direct her to something that fits the bill, she'll buy a half-metre or something, and be on her merry way without destroying anything important.

And don't ask people if they're pregnant. Just don't do it. Maybe if you can see the head crowning. Anything else, just assume she had a big lunch and has terrible posture.


  1. I have two younget brothers with 2 years age difference. Though I didn't realize it back then (am 4 and 6 years elder to them) they were quite a handful for my mom. Shopping alone at her own pace was a bliss she rarely enjoyed back then. Reading your post reminded me of those days, nearly 20 years back. Now, we are in 3 different countries !

    Good luck with NaBloPoMo !

    1. Yes, who would have ever thought that shopping alone is practically like a mini-vacation?!
      And thank you :)


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