Shopping for groceries, some people love it, some people hate it.
When the kids were young, a trip to the supermarket was not an enjoyable outing for me and something I definitely didnt look forward to.
Living out on the farm meant loading the kids into the car and driving into town. The timing had to be right and all the loading and unloading was exhausting. I had to load two babies and one toddler into the car and buckle them in. Make sure I had the pram, the nappy bag, a spare change of clothes (you really just never know) three favourite toys, a drink bottle or two, my list and my purse.
When I got to the supermarket I then had to unload. It was a bonus to get a park out the front. I got the pram out, two into the pram, then the eldest beautiful child out last, so he didnt run off. The nappy bag, drinks, favourite toys, my list and my purse. This took around 20 minutes and I hadn’t even got into the supermarket.
In my supermarket they had a twin trolley. It was very helpful when my twins were babies. They sat up top and their older brother sat in the trolley, until we ran out of room for food, then he had to walk. This mostly worked well. I remember saying a lot of “no put that back” “Don’t touch that” “stop poking your brother”. “No you can’t sit in the front”. “No you can’t push the trolley” “You can have some fruit, you do not need lollies”.
Even on the good days when no one was crying, or there were no tantrums, I rushed through the list as quickly as I could. There was a small window of calm with ‘three under three’, some days I made it, others I didnt.
Being able to shop in our little country town supermarket was both a blessing and a curse. It was embarrassing when the two year old toddler had a tantrum, because everyone knew who you were. It didnt matter which one it was, at some stage they all had a turn (yes, all four of them). My only, ‘favourite’ daughter, may dispute this.
I can clearly remember my eldest son howling on the floor in the fruit and vegie section because I wouldn’t buy him some cherries at $16 a kilo, he didnt like cherries. He wouldn’t move and screamed louder when I tried to touch him. Because I was a local in this little country town the blessing was they all knew I hadn’t kidnapped him or anything like that. No police were called, instead a couple of lovely girls tried to help. They just watched him lay on the floor crying while I rushed through two isles getting the essentials. The whole shop could hear him screaming. I was mortified. No one else took any notice. Finally I went back and got him, I paid for our groceries and got out. ‘Number one son’ didn’t calm down until I got him in the car. Then as every normal two year old does after a tantrum, he promptly fell asleep.
On the good days, shopping in the supermarket where I knew everyone was also a blessing. Locals shopping and staff, always said hello to the kids. They would stop and ‘goo and gaa’ at the twins and give chocolate frogs to my ‘number one son’. This was lovely, but also, in turn made the whole experience an hour longer because not just one person stopped to chat but every person you came across wanted to say hello to us.
I think the experiences of taking four children shopping have scarred me. Even now that my children are grown up, stay home and look after themselves, grocery shopping is still something I do not look forward to. I have a list. I get in and get out. Head down, don’t make any eye contact with anyone, get my food and go home. Its not because I am in a rush or because I don’t like to chat. I think it is an old habit from when the kids were little. I do not ‘dilly dally’ in supermarkets.
The other day in the supermarket I stopped to chat to another ‘beautiful farmers wife’ who was shopping with her young boy, he is a cute little rascal. She was very calm about the many things that he kept bringing her to put in the shopping trolley. She kept chatting to me as she told him to put each item back, every time he came up to her with something clutched in his hands and a big smile on his face. She was so calm and had all the time in the world for me. I admired her relaxed attitude. That day my ‘farmers wife friend’ was an inspiration. She could have taught me a thing or two in my early years.
It seems like a hundred years ago that I was in the middle of the time warp of having four young children. Every little outing took a long time and lots of organisation. Shopping with small, busy children was always interesting, to say the least. Some days were easy, some days were hard. The harder ones seem to stay stuck in my memories.
Lately I have tried to change my anti-social shopping habits. I try not to rush, I take my time and try and walk each isle. I make eye contact and chat with the staff and other people who I know. I am starting to see shopping as a nicer job and to be grateful that I have time to slow down a little. It is certainly still not my favourite outing, but these days I am trying not to hate it as much.