Monday, June 14, 2010


A crying baby has a certain jarring sound to it that I find impossible to ignore.

Of course, that's the purpose of it. It's so penetrating, and so constant, that parents can't ignore it and will do just about anything to find out what the baby needs.

That's how I feel when I hear a crying baby. My heart goes out to it. I would do anything to help it to feel better, and to stop it crying.

Unless it's in the supermarket. Then I just want to smother it, swiftly followed by its parents.

An old line of Jack Dee's: "Why do people take their children to the supermarket to hit them?"

Yesterday, Sainsbury's was absolutely jam-packed with yelling children.

"WAAAAH! WAAAAH!" was round every corner. The tiny ones were crying. The bigger ones were wailing.

The one that got to me most was a child of about three who was being made to sit in the trolley, probably because he'd been misbehaving.

"I want to walk," he yelled. "I WANT TO WALK! I WANT TO WALK! I WANT TO WALK! I WANT TO WALK!"

His mother was one of those who thought that Polite Reason was the best way of dealing with it.

"Well, we've had that conversation," she said, "and you're going to sit in the trolley."

This method wasn't very effective.


He kept it up for hours. Decades. Millennia. Wherever I was in the supermarket I could hear him and I varied between, firstly, feeling very sorry for him and, secondly, wanting to kill him first and his mother second.


To me, a supermarket is like a theatre. If your child is annoying the hell out of everyone else present, you should remove the child from the situation for everyone's sake. Or accept that irate shoppers might loom round the corners with the intention of beating you to death with a cucumber.


So, what would you have done to solve the problem, Daphne, and what right have you to pass comment?

Well, you know what, I just don't think when you're in a supermarket with a toddler you can just carry on shopping as though the child's not there. I always found that the whole thing had to become some sort of Thrilling Supermarket Game.

"And now we need - - - BANANAS! Can you see the bananas? - - Oh yes, THERE they are!"

Sometimes I'd go down the "Once upon a Time" route and do a jolly story all the way round. Certainly, the mother of I WANT TO WALK should have done something to distract him and I'm sure he would have cheered up in an instant and stopped driving all the other shoppers nuts.

And it's very tiring and it's hard to do and that's why being with toddlers is so exhausting. But if you are going to have a toddler in the first place, and then take the child to the supermarket, then I'm afraid that, as far as I'm concerned, that's what you have to do. Ignoring the child isn't fair on the child and yesterday it wasn't fair on ME. Grrrrrr.


Anonymous Ruth said...

At some point recently my neighbours' 2 / 3 yr old (not sure exactly how old he is) loudly whined 'Daddy look at me, look at me daddy, look at me' for hours on end (okay perhaps it was minutes, but lots of minutes). It was painful, irritating, tortuous. I really wanted to go next door and say to the daddy in question 'Just look at your son, that's all he wants'. I didn't. I bet he's the sort of dad who would take his son to the supermarket, put him in a trolley and ignore his plaintiff pleas. I can hear it now 'I want to walk, daddy, I want to walk...'

7:17 pm  
Anonymous WriteousIndignation said...

Absolutely! I'm not with the 'you should never take your child to a supermarket' camp (or the 'your child, who normally waits for food at home,can't make it round the shop without being allowed to eat half the trolley contents'camp either - ooh that makes me mad, LOL!), I absolutely agree that parents should talk to their children and get them involved.
When I was little, everyone had to go shopping with their parents. It's what you did. I think it's important that children realise that shopping is something that has to be done (and it's the only chance some of them get to see what an actual, whole cabbage looks like, for instance). The opportunities for learning and developing social skills are HUGE.
And so we come to the talking...and there we go Daphne. There is a defintie dearth of conversation between many modern parents and their children, whether they're in the supermarket or not! Many seem to treat their kids as a (rather alien)inconvenience - rather than intellignet humans who just happen to be a lot 'newer' than they are! :-)

7:28 pm  
Blogger Ailbhe said...

Heh, I once walked around Waitrose with my hand clamped over Linnea's mouth as she sat in the trolley seat and yelled. It wasn't for lack of involvement or game-playing, either. But supermarket shopping isn't as much fun as parents like to pretend it is...

7:37 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said... go to the supermarket with hungry ish child, find the food the child likes best - in maia's case cucumber & saucisson, and let them eat it while you do the rest of the shopping, whilst of course engaging cheerfully the while...

8:51 pm  
Anonymous Milo said...

At least you can escape the supermarket. The thing I most dread (as I use them all the time) is tubes and trains. It's a case of 'the horror, the horror' when being subjected to the excruciating experience that is being trapped on a tube or regular train with a screaming child. Hell on earth.

8:59 pm  
Blogger Yorkshire Pudding said...

What a co-incidence! I know that little lad. He's called Tim, Tiny Tim Bremner and he'a paraplegic. When he says "I WANT TO WALK!" he really means it.

When my children cried as babies for no apparent reason, I used to "beat" them with songs. It was either "The Grand Old Duke of York" or "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" until their little tantrums subsided. This must be why they are both psychologically damaged!

9:13 pm  
Blogger Silverback said...

You ability to hold your tongue at such times never ceases to amaze and impress me.

As you might imagine, I don't have that ability ! Or children !!

9:54 pm  
Blogger rhymeswithplague said...

Oh, good, another post! I didn't know how to respond to the previous one. Now that I think about it, I don't know how to respond to this one either. Because in my day we would have beaten the tar out of the little angel, and today that sort of behavior is frowned upon.

Best thing to do is phone your order in and have someone else fill it and deliver it to your house. (They used to do that, too, but they don't do it any more.)

So just consider this a "Hi, Daphne, I'm here" wave from the other side of Blogland.

1:57 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

rhymeswithplague: well, they sort of do, if you're happy with substituting "type" for "phone" (and they won't give you 8 cartons of orange juice: they'll pretend they've run out).

Julie paradox

9:56 am  

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