Today I was “that woman” in the supermarket. What I mean was I was the woman with the uncontrollable, screeching, crying, writhing one-year-old.
I was the one with the child who could be heard from one side of the store to the other and who was fairly powerless to end the ordeal.
It began innocently enough; my elder daughter was in need of a new pair of party shoes for the weekend so I thought we’d pop into a supermarket and get them there as I also needed a few bits of shopping.
I thought I was safe; it was 11am (not perilously close to lunchtime), she’d just woken up from her nap (tiredness shouldn’t be an issue) I had both a fully stocked change bag with me and a dummy.
What could possibly go wrong?
Well, dear reader, I made a catalogue of errors.
Firstly as I had mentally decided it would be a quick in and out job, I grabbed the kids and my purse and left the change bag (with the lifesaving dummy) in the car.
We got into the supermarket and began looking for shoes. Mistake number two. My three-year-old has something of a penchant for shoes so this was never going to be a quick job.
Eventually we settled on a pair but before I noticed she’d pulled off the tags and was refusing to take them off. Cue minor tantrum. Nothing mega really but enough to fray my already twitchy nerves and put my daughter into a sulk.
Error number three, I walked past the sale rail and spotted a few bargains.
By this point I knew I was pushing my luck and the goodwill of my two children was running low, but you know that feeling that sometimes, just sometimes for goodness sake, you want to spend five minutes doing what you want to do, and not what your children want?
So I picked up the tops and wheeled my trolley into the changing room.
Well, I should have known better because half way through the trying on, the melt down began.
The seats are so close to each other in a trolley that I suppose it is somewhat inevitable that they are going to start laying into one another.
My one-year-old can’t talk but desperately wants to. She also wants to walk but can’t quite manage that yet either so on both fronts just tends to squawk out of frustration. And believe me, she doesn’t squawk quietly.
My three-year-old on the other hand never stops talking; she doesn’t do that quietly either.
So there I am, in the cubicle, world war three is kicking off and I realise I’ve still got to buy formula and something for tea. I begin a frenzied supermarket sweep. People start staring. Half of them give me the daggers of judgement (“control your children” “bad-mother” “surely that child must be in pain to make that much noise!?”).
The other half give that look of solidarity, with a knowing dip of the brows (“been there done that” “mine are all grown up now and I actually miss their childhood” or simply “Poor you don’t worry, get thorough ‘till bedtime then open the gin!”)
Eventually I make it round. She screams the whole way and is only placated when I break open the picnic sausages at the checkout. By this point I confront the various glares of disapproval about feeding them food from the trolley with a full on face of thunder. Go on, I think, say something I dare you…
I finally get out to the car, get the kids strapped in and I feel ready to explode or cry when I catch her little face in the rear view mirror. “mum mum mum… mummy” she utters for the very first time and I melt. All is forgiven.