After looking out the window and seeing the deluge that is a Gloucestershire Autumn weekend, we decided that we would take the kids shopping – after all, it would be fun, wouldn’t it?
We took the kids to Cribbs Causeway (I know, it sounds like a gunshop in downtown L.A.) which is a mall just outside of Bristol. I quite like malls. I know that it’s a shame about the death of the high street, artisan shops and all that – but I honestly don’t give a monkeys.
I like Starbucks, I like Gap and I like H&M. I also like that I don’t have to traipse from Starbucks to Gap and get wet – it’s not much – but…you know, simple pleasures.
The main reason – honestly – that we went to Cribbs was to buy a new wipe-clean tablecloth (the glamour), a jigsaw or two for DS (again, the glamour) and some new long sleeve tops for both kids, as it’s getting a bit nippy (yet again, the glamour). I had visions of us as a family, visiting John Lewis, idly looking at the toys and promising our children a treat – if they were good – and then sharing a leisurely lunch as our children quietly scribbled away with crayons; then after our kids were well fed we would complete our shopping expedition and drive home smiling benignly at our sleeping, contented children…
Well that didn’t happen.
Our children ran amok in the John Lewis toy department like a couple of marauding vikings. DS pulled Random Plastic Crap (RPC) from the shelves, seemingly at random, and demanded we buy them: plastic animatronic dinosaurs, cuddly kittens, glow-in-the-dark solar systems (wtf?) whilst his cohort sister rumbled around the department in any wheeled transport she could commandeer like a US Marine in Bagdad. We did manage to buy a jigsaw and a plastic table cloth but our children also sucessfully shop-lifted a couple of balls and a tube of halloween jelly beans. Joy.
We herded the hoard into the Early Learning Centre where DD almost immediately got into a tussle with another little girl over a toy push-chair and DS pulled more RDC off the shelves. Feeling a little frazzled (a parenting euphemism for close to infanticide) we pushed onto H&M but gave up this outpost as the marauders complained of hunger.
I’m not sure why, but we decided on Carluccios. It was carnage. We had to wait a little bit too long for scrambled eggs and some apple juice, so DW decided to pick at DD’s cradle cap, like Gorillas in the Mist. Once the food arrived DD started shovelling it in with her hands and DS steadfastedly refused to eat; so we had to use the tried and tested formula of blackmail and threats…but we still ended up trying to feed children more interested in clambering over the booth than eating. In the end we got the bill as quickly as we could and fled.
The joys continued in H&M where DW had the bright idea of getting DS to pick clothes that he liked – so we ended up with a collection of clothes that would only go together at night. DD, meanwhile, screamed the shop down and set off the security alarms on exit after grabbing anything within range. By this time DS was demanding a halloween jelly bean every 3.6 seconds, so we relented, just so we wouldn’t just sit down and start rocking backwards and forwards and jabbering random lines from The Wheels on the Bus.
To finish, we bundled the kids into the car and sped home, only to stop at a large roundabout to let DS out to vomit – because he had too many jelly beans.
Why do we put ourselves through this living hell? Because we are trying to socialise our children; get them used to eating out and being with people…
We’ll keep trying.