This post begins with an appeal. If you ever see me contemplating taking SB shopping on a Saturday afternoon again, please slap me. I don’t care whether you do it virtually or physically, just slap me, and point me in the direction of this blog post.
Daf goes to a tabletop gaming society at uni on a Saturday afternoon. This week, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to take SB into town and get her a dress for my graduation. Daf dropped us off at the shopping centre and tootled off to his meeting.
I’ve had bad experiences with taking SB shopping before. In the past, I’ve made the mistake of not taking a pushchair, and just letting her walk with me on her reins. That ended in her having a screaming tantrum because, being the cruel, controlling mummy that I am, I wouldn’t let her wander off into a busy shopping centre on her own. I wouldn’t make the same mistake again, so I took her pushchair and strapped her in.
She was perfectly happy. She was content to admire herself in various mirrors as we trawled the children’s sections in clothes shops, on the hunt for the perfect dress. She charmed every single shop assistant and checkout staff member we saw – the lady in Debenhams said her smile brightened her day! – and because she was so good, I didn’t feel an ounce of guilt when we went to the toy shop and I bought her a cuddly toy Sven from ‘Frozen’.
We had lunch together – well, I say ‘together’, she ate all but a couple of bites of my ham and cheese panini, all of my slice of lemon cake, and her own Babybel and banana. Her own sandwiches were pitifully forgotten – and then, we rejoined the crowds for Saturday shopping. This was where the fun began.
The way I see it, everyone who is out in town on a Saturday afternoon falls into a certain “tribe”. I’ve written a handy spotting guide, so you can identify them too –
The Gaggle Of Teenagers: These are usually gaggles of girls, as boys tend to spend Saturday afternoon glued to Fifa or Call Of Duty. Their parents have given them a bit of cash to get them out of their hair for the afternoon, so they’ve gone into town to hit up the shops. The most common characteristics are frequent loud shrieks, walking that is frequently interrupted to take group selfies, and clothing that makes you feel old as you think “Ooh, you’ll catch your death of cold if you don’t put a jumper on!”.
The Drunken Idiots: We were lucky enough to only encounter one of these on Saturday. Unfortunately, it was a close encounter, as a tracksuit-clad plank stinking of beer staggered out of the bookies’ and almost fell into SB’s pushchair. These are best ignored if possible. A judgmental glare should be the limit of your contact with them.
The Carefree Couple: You’re in love, we get it. And you’re not yet tied down by the practicalities of parenting. But really, is it necessary to walk holding hands across a very narrow bridge? And then glare at mums with pushchairs who somehow have to get past you? Carefree Couples can be identified by copious amounts of love bites on their necks, and patronising smirks at anyone they deem not to be as loved-up as they are.
The Elderly Couple: Unlike the Carefree Couple, you don’t mind them walking along holding hands, because it gives you the warm fuzzies. Plus, they’re usually super sweet and will make way for you and your pushchair, making a fuss of your little one as you go past. Recognisable characteristics include being absolutely adorable.
The Weekend Worker: All he wants is a Greggs’ cheesy bean bake for his lunch, and all these leisurely strollers are getting in his way! Identifiable by frequent huffing and puffing, numerous attempts to get past people, a suit, and the sort of grizzly demeanour that can only come from being stuck in work on a Saturday.
The Family Day Out-ers: What better to do on a Saturday afternoon than take your five kids, their six cousins and ten of their friends shopping? To then sit down with one child for half an hour while they try on football boots, as the rest of the party cause absolute chaos in Sports Direct? Not that I’m speaking from bitter experience or anything.
The Terrified Mother: Yep, this one is me. I almost cried in Primark, as everyone was being so rude. The amount of people who stormed past SB in her pushchair, not caring if they hit her with their bags, made me feel ever-so-slightly murderous, and the sheer number of people trying to queue jump and then saying “Oh, sorry, I just thought your pushchair was in the way” was enough to make my blood boil. There would have been a lot of dead Teenage Gagglers had I not forced myself to stay in control.
It would be easy for me to declare that there is a philosophical moral to this story – that it proves we need to be less judgmental of each other, and more supportive of what every person might be going through. We need a little more patience and a little less anger, and even the busiest of Saturday shopping days will be a calmer, less stressful experience.
Philosophical morals are for people whose blood pressure hasn’t been sent through the roof on a day of what is supposed to be “retail therapy” (emphasis on the “therapy”… therapeutic IT WAS NOT). Instead, I’ve taken one lesson and one lesson only from my experience getting up close and personal with the wild animals of Saturday shopping.
Next time I need to buy a baby dress, I’m going on a weekday.