Saturday Shopping

I rarely go saturday shopping because it is a painful experience, and when I do, it puts me off repeating the exercise for many months to follow. However, yesterday I went to buy a pair of jeans.

It should have been easy, but it wasn’t. Anyway, that is another story.

What struck me was the fact that when you shop alone (as I tend to do when I’m trying to find clothes or shoes), you become so much more aware of what other people are doing. The conversations you overhear in women’s changing rooms (either customers or staff!), the sights you see (like those women who manage to go out in a saggy tracksuit that appears to have vomit-stains down the front, for example), or the behaviour of families in cafes – you never seem to notice them if you’re there with someone else.  Its part of the whole shopping experience, and it is entertaining to me, in itself. That psychology degree of mine is never wasted!

Still, I could not help but stand and stare at the woman in front of me in the cafe queue, with the push-chair and the horrid little brat. The child – lets call him Freddy – was about 4 years old, I think (but I’m no judge of age), and he had climbed up the chrome rail on the front of the counter, and had perched himself on the top, next to the till and the cutlery trays. His mother called his name with an exclamation mark after it, in an attempt (I assume) to discipline him. It didn’t work.

Mother pulled a mobile phone out of her handbag, and announced in a loud voice for all to hear, that she would be ringing the police to come and take him away. The boy sprang down from the counter and pleaded with her not to use the telephone, until she returned it to her bag. (One day he’ll call her bluff, and then that threat won’t work any more – is what I was thinking to myself. )

At this point, little Freddy notices that Mummy has carefully selected a carton of apple juice for him to drink. He expresses his disapproval by pummelling his mother’s thigh with his fists and screaming. She tells him in a voice that even I’m not convinced by, that “NO! You’re not having cola – you won’t drink it. And in any case, you’re hyper enough already. ”

Oh good, I thought. Perhaps she’s making a stand here. But I was wrong.

Freddy has now grabbed two fistfulls of mum’s trousers and has let his weight drop to the floor. He continues to scream at a pitch that only small children can. Despite the fact this is happeneing directly in front of me, I am prepared to put up with the disquiet if only some discipline will come forward from this woman. ‘Please’ I find myself saying silently to this lady, ‘Please be nasty to this little brat, and he will be put in his place. You can do it.’

“Alright.” says the mother in a cooing voice. ” Be a good boy and swap it for me, then.”

No No No NO! I continue to speak sliently to myself. You have lost it, lady. That boy is a mess and its all your fault!

Eventually they go and sit down, and I do too. Unfortunately the only seat available to me has an unobscured view of little Freddy and his mother at their table – but at least I can’t hear them now. I watch their body language from afar, with me utterly transfixed and mortified in equal measure.

Mother is sipping her cappuccino like its the elixir of life, and ignoring the small boy who is perched on a chair opposite her, trying to drink his glass of cola measure by measure using a tablespoon. Mother blinks and looks away. It is obvious she’s had enough.

Freddy lifts the glass to his mouth and sticks his tongue into the cola, having cast the spoon away now. He appears to be concentrating on this latest manouvre, but I can see that he steals a look sideways to mummy – to see if she is watching him nearly pour the glass of coke over himself.

She is not.

He gives up and goes back to the spoon.

A little later, I see her speak to him. I dream that perhaps she’s telling him to sit straight and drink his drink sensibly, just like my mother would have reprimanded me. But suddenly he swipes his hand from right to left in front of him, as though to hit his mother across the face.

I am stunned.

The Mother appears indifferent to this action and carries on sipping her coffee.

My bloodpressure is rising. I have to get out of here…………….


4 Responses to “Saturday Shopping”

  1. 1 Booger 26 February 2007 at 10:57 am

    Delightful. Just think Spaniel, when our generation is old and grey, his generation will be in charge of the country.

    So did you get the jeans or not?

  2. 2 drunkenspaniel 26 February 2007 at 1:07 pm

    Hi Booger – yes I did get my jeans in the end, but not before I’d traipsed around every shop in town, trying in vain to find a pair that would fit someone with child-bearing hips and a wobbly belly.
    Weird, though – last time I went shopping for jeans in town, I weighed more, but I had less trouble finding a pair….
    Still, I did get jeans.
    For a fiver
    From my local tesco.

    I should have gone straight there and avoided the saturday shopping altogether….

    Ah well.

  3. 3 Moobs 26 February 2007 at 6:55 pm

    Smacking is illegal now and reasoning doesn’t work with those too young to reason. The only solution is for children to come fitted with an off switch.

  4. 4 drunkenspaniel 27 February 2007 at 8:36 am

    Smacking of parents by their children, you mean, Moobs????

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