In the current state of things, the simplest pleasures should be savoured.
With our freedom on hold until the virus has had its wicked way with us, it places a little more strain on parents too.
So it was with this thought in mind that I mentioned to my wife that I though it might be a good idea to just get out and stretch our legs. The weather may well be bad, but the kids haven’t been out in a while, let’s just take them to the local shopping centre, have a bit of a mooch around and then treat the kids to some wholly unhealthy but enjoyable food.
What could go wrong?
Well, when you have young kids, the world and its sink must come with you. We have a massive holdall that contains everything from nappies, creams, wipes and snacks, as well as bottles, spare clothes in case of toilet emergencies, favourite toys, dummies, tissues…..
It’s fair to say that it wouldn’t look out of place on one of those sad mules oft seen clumping up a mountainside.
So, once we finished packing the holdall, changing the kids nappies twice and their tops as they somehow got them dirty with zero food in the vicinity and then losing a shoe in the kitchen – we got in the car and headed to the shopping centre.
Now, before Covid (BC) a trip to the shopping centre would hold little entertainment value or worth unless you’re actually going to spend some money. But things have changed and my wife and I were just glad to escape the confines of the four walls and the kicker was that the young ‘uns needed to get out. With the weather lashing down, the shopping centre offers an escape of sorts. The youngest gets sort of transfixed by the assortment of lights and window displays and the oldest embraces the chance to trot along in something longer than our garden. So we happily gambled along the walkways, which now had handy arrows on the floor to tell you to walk on a certain side (something my oldest enjoyed stamping on as we walked, much to the chagrin of the people behind us).
The happiness ended after half an hour.
My wife needed to return something to H&M and so we had to queue outside the store as only a certain amount of people were permitted inside at any one time. That meant standing stationary with two young children. The youngest in the pushchair was easily entertained by the odd gurn from my elastic features and his dummy. My oldest though? He was fully in the mood to burn some rubber in his trainers and the idea of standing still and being quiet?
Well, that held no sway with him. So at first, he kept repeating the mantra, “we go now?” To which my wife and I tried to placate with promises that we would be going soon. Very soon. Just you wait and see, we’ll be going before you know it.
Ten minutes later, he is pulling my arm like a dog that’s seen a squirrel.
I say to my wife that she should stay in the queue – which hadn’t moved – and I’ll do some laps with the now bouncing child. She agrees – mainly because she can sense that if we pushed it any longer, then the possibility for a full-blown tantrum in a public space could ensue. So I take his hand and we walk around, and he tells me all about the adventures of a monster truck he has been watching. Then he reverts back to his old favourite of spotting numbers, letters and words he knows and sees in the shop windows. Clever kid, far too sharp.
After about ten minutes, we return and my wife is now at the front of the queue so we sidle into place and await entry.
For another ten minutes.
By the time we get in, the youngest is now not happy to be in the pushchair and is doing the old “push up on my legs and buck the pushchair” trick. The oldest can’t be stymied by numbers and letters and so I’ve given him my phone to watch YouTube.
The effort to keep your kids happy and also to avoid just giving them what they want all the time is a balancing act that can’t always be managed. Occasionally, they win and you will do pretty much whatever it is that they want you to do, just so you can keep them quiet or behaving.
That was the case with the H&M queue.
To make matters worse, my wife didn’t even return the item…
That wasn’t the end of the trip though.
Part 2 comes tomorrow – and it gets messy.
See you tomorrow!