Trolley trauma

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 04 October, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 04 October, 2003, 12:00am

It is a little known fact that the time you spend queuing in the supermarket is equivalent to half your adult life, so it's not surprising that things can get a little tense among the gridlocked shopping trolleys. If that wait isn't tortuous enough, you have to contend with the marketing ploy of displaying the sweets within grasping distance of little hands.

'Mummy look!' my daughter exclaims in faux surprise, having spent five minutes inspecting the display, choosing her sugar-fix and working out a new and ingenious way to get around me. 'Pink ones, mummy. I can share them with my friends.'

Half an hour of tough negotiation later and we're at stalemate. This means she's having a tantrum and I'm pretending she belongs to the man behind me who looks horrified that such a small person can emit so much noise.

And it is not just the checkout that presents problems. The pressure begins to mount from the moment I try to squeeze my stroller through the metal tubes at the exit but give up and abandon the stroller and in doing so manage to dodge the trolley-pushers who stack 100 trolleys together and manoeuvre them through the shop at rush hour.

So I lug my enormous baby and cajole my petulant pre-schooler through the shop to the entrance where the trolleys are stacked.

The baby is dumped into the trolley but the battle has barely begun.

The baby is immediately bored and tries his utmost to pull as many things as possible off the shelves with well-timed sideways dives, and my daughter begs me constantly for snacks, chocolate, drinks and anything pink that catches her eye.

I have never bought her any of these things on request, on the mistaken principle that she will eventually give up asking. But I hadn't reckoned on a two-year-old's dogged determination. 'But Mummy this snack has Pooh Bear on it,' she cries as if this is going to change my mind.

I could manage to block out the pleas from my daughter and the wails from my baby and keep my sanity intact were it not for the fact that the shelf-stackers change the position of the food whenever they fancy a bit of a laugh. They have an uncanny ability to know exactly when I have finally worked out where everything is and then change it around. So by the time the checkout looms my patience, which is normally exemplary of course, has worn thin and I could frankly do without the queue and the sweets and the search for a till with a working EPS machine. I was sent an e-mail recently, which described to would-be parents the process of shopping with children.

'Take with you the nearest thing you can find to a pre-school child - a fully-grown goat is excellent,' it says. 'If you intend to have more than one child, take more goats. Buy your week's groceries without letting any of the goats out of your sight. Pay for everything the goats eat or destroy. Until you can easily accomplish this, don't even contemplate having children.'