(A word of warning, first and foremost, that this post contains some naughty words).
We’ve all been there. Taking a toddler shopping. Sometimes, it’s done out of necessity – childcare falls through, or it’s an emergency outing. Sometimes, it’s done out of a misguided desire to impart valuable life lessons – an eighteen month old will learn about budgeting by watching you hand over your debit card, right? Sometimes, it’s just sheer stupidity. Don’t worry – we’ve all been there.
The process of taking your toddler shopping can be separated into five very distinct stages. Imagine this – you walk into the Children’s section at Primark, or Next, or the clothing shop of your choice. Everything is going well. But all it takes is for you to walk past something they want, or to steer them away from the very expensive, very breakable items (seriously, who puts vases and ornaments right next to the children’s clothing section?!) – and that’s when it begins. With just a simple “No, baby, don’t touch those, they might break”, you set off the five stages of shopping with a toddler.
Denial: As the little face crumples, and those first wails sound out around the shop like a warning siren, you try to pretend it’s not happening. You know it’s futile, and you know this is only the beginning, but hey – maybe this time will be different. Maybe this time, your toddler will realise they’re not getting any attention, and stop the tantrum. Heck, maybe no-one will even realise that it’s your child having a screaming fit, because you’ve just stopped them knocking over seventeen identical glass heart-shaped plaques with “Live The Life You Love” and “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” engraved on them. Fingers in ears, la-la-la, totally not listening, not my child, not my problem.
Anger: Look at that child over there. They’re strolling through the clothes section, clinging to their mother’s hand like a little angel, while my child is now almost certainly the victim of a demonic possession. How red can that little face get? And oh my God, that scream. Great, now people are staring. Have they never seen a tantrum before? Either splash some holy water on her to exorcise the devil, or stop gawping and fuck off! Why does she never behave like this when she’s with her dad? Oh, bloody buggering shit. There we go, six of the seventeen glass plaques have smashed onto the floor. If any shop assistant dares to come near me now, I’ll run them down with my Bugaboo. Stupid fucking plaques. Stupid fucking shop.
Bargaining: If you shut up, I’ll buy you a toy. And some chocolate. And we’ll have McDonalds. Yes, and pudding. Yes, even a McFlurry. Two toys. A big bar of chocolate. A bag of chocolate. All of the chocolate in Mummy’s Secret Chocolate Drawer. Just stop knocking the fucking plaques over.
Depression: Shopping is shit. Toddlers are shit. Glass plaques are shit. Life is shit. I’m shit. Shit shit shit.
Acceptance: Of course mummy isn’t angry at you anymore, sweetheart. Of course you can have a cuddle. No, of course I didn’t need the £200 you’ve just cost me in demolished glass plaques. Yes, you can have that chocolate I promised you. And the toy. And the McDonalds.
All is calm… until, of course, you realise that you never actually got what you went into the shop for. Well, you definitely can’t show your face in that shop ever again, so it’s time to move onto the next one. All seems fine as you walk in; hand-in-hand with your now-angelic, fully-exorcised toddler. Head to the kids’ clothes… yep, still nice and calm. You turn your back for one moment, distracted by an adorable pair of dungarees, and…
Fucking glass plaques.