Shoe Shops and Roundabouts

You know the moment-we all have them-the moment where you wait patiently for what seems like an eternity for the ground to open up beneath your feet and swallow you whole. This particular moment went something like this.

Shoe shopping attempt with all 4 darlings. B in the trolley seat, squashed in because at 5 and a bit he's really far too big for said trolley seat, but without wedging him in (or failing that placing some sort of epidermic tracking device on him), we'd be screwed and the shop trashed in approximately 13 seconds flat. B is our very own Taz of the cartoon Tasmanian Devil-lovable, cheeky, but when all's said and done just a little bit special. He has destruction skills that rival a bulldozer on speed, and has Dynamo's disappearing act totally down.

D was being her usual helpful self, and O absolutely had to try on EVERY pair of shoes in the shop to make sure she could cause maximum infuriation by choosing the very first pair she'd tried on. BH had chosen to investigate whether there was in fact more than one use for a shoe. A weapon for imaginary enemies (or actual people that happened to get in the way), a seat, a part of a skittles game or a hat all seemed to be firm favourites, and to be fair, it's hard not to commend a 3 year old on their resourcefulness of such a seemingly inflexible object.

Kids rallied, shoes chosen, and kids mostly happy (3/4 is a 75% smug-parent rating-do the maths) we went to pay. Until I noticed a big puddle the size of Poole park pond on the floor underneath the trolley. But I defnitely didn't give B a drink.... oh. Nice. Straight through the nappy, the trousers, the trolley seat and dripping like chinese water torture onto the nice shoe shop recently-refurbed-and-very-white-and-sparkly-new-tiles. BH decides to make a public announcement that B had 'weed all over the floor, careful it will be slippy, yuck gross, wee-bum, wee-bum' at the top of her squeaky-blond little voice. Mr Johnson at this point I love you, babywipes are the bread to my butter, the audience to my theatre in this pantomime of life. Dramatic? Maybe, but until you've taken 4 kids shoe shopping by yourself you cannot begin to understand the true meaning of the word drama..

Wee mopped, shoes paid for (just-I almost forgot in my haste to flee, but the beep of shame as I went to exit sent me back to the till at speed while I tutted disapprovingly at the man who happened to be leaving at the same time) I left to deal with the pee situation. Nearest baby change with a mat big enough for my non-baby in nappies, er, probably London. I would just have to make do with the Sainsbury's disabled toilet floor. Hygienic, no, necessary, unfortunately yes.

After some to-be-expected faff I had herded all 4 kids into Saino's. Trolley parked outside the toilet on the busy raceway of people who had finished their shopping and just wanted to leave already, I attempted to un-wedge B from his vacuum fit (and now soggy) seat. 1,2,3 heave. And I mean heave- that boy is definitely not light. But even by my buff standards today it seemed a little trickier, the boy was just not budging. Had I forgotten to eat my spinach and morphed overnight into patheticness personified? I tried again, this time with more oomph, channelling all the stress of the situation into that one removal effort. Freedom at last, at least freedom until his feet got wedged in those too small foot holes. Dammit. Stuck. Screaming. And then some. The raceway of freedom from the shop suddenly got like the M25 when someone's had an exciting crash- everyone slows down to have a gander at what's going on and the flow of traffic becomes almost stationary. People passed, people stared, B upped the histrionics. I was just beginning to wonder why people had such an interest in a situation that surely would have happened a thousand, ok, at least a few times before in such a well-visited family supermarket, until D suddenly shrieked 'Mooning. B's mooning everyone and his willy's out too.' Usually I would congratulate my kids on their candidness and honesty, but this was not one of those moments. Clarity hit as I looked down at my screeching son, feet still wedged, trousers caught on the trolley and nappy having managed to do an uncanny impression of 'that' girls' knickers at the staff Christmas do. My boy was indecently exposing himself to all and sundry and still carrying on like I was trying to murder him, far from the reality of freeing him from said predicament. I needed help. Now. Scanning the immediate area, I ensued help from the best option in my eyeline, my 9 year old. 'D-you push his feet, I'll pull him out.' An infallible plan.

4 attempts later and we had jointly managed to remove B from the trolley, checking him over for dislocations would have to wait, I needed to preserve what dignity the poor boy had left, not to mention my own sanity. Disabled toilet floor and 3 minutes later, we were all sorted. Fresh new nappy, brand new trousers and all traces of trauma removed by the highly entertaining hand drier, we made a move to leave. You'll be pleased to know at this point that I am in fact one of these people who learn from their mistakes (but normally only after multiple occurrences, due to my incessant optimism and self belief that I can conquer and change things for the better) so I plonked B back into the wedge seat of wonder. D let out an audible sigh and rolled her eyes. I smiled, half encouragingly, half manically. Having decided I, and they, had endured more than enough retail chaos for one day, we proceeded to the car.

After the usual dramas of who sits where, shotgunning and whining over whose turn it was to go in the front, I drove the car out of the multistorey, slightly frazzled but as yet definitely unbeaten. If you know me, you'll know it takes a hell of a lot more than one Sainsbury's incident to break me. All was going swimmingly, 4 happy children (4/4 is in fact 100% on the smug-parent scale) and we were almost home. Just the roundabout of death to overcome- you know the type, traffic lights, mutliple crazy exits and almost as many lanes as the M6. Normally no bother, but today would, as ever, turn out to be the exception to the rule. Story of my life. As I accelerated through the first set of traffic lights in our very spandangly brand new (albeit slightly slow) motability car, a crazed warning beep reminiscent of an air raid siren bellowed at me. I had no idea what this was, the car being spandangly new and all, and hurriedly scanned the dash for any clue, while simultaneously trying to switch lanes and not hit the granny driver in front. SUGAR HONEY ICED TEA-rear passenger door open. I'd obviously forgotten to switch the child lock back on after releasing the kids earlier and I turn around to see B about to kill us all in some sort of comedy stunt death crash. Think, think, think. Still on the roundabout of doom, no option to stop without causing a 15-car pile up. Calmly, I say to D as quickly but concisely as I can (no time for lengthy conversation right now) 'Unstrap, climb across, hold B's door shut til I can pull over. Thanks.' She amazingly obeys without complaint or resistance. See, D is usually a sucker for rules, and would NEVER unstrap in a moving vehicle since this violates about 10 aforementioned 'rules' I learn in this split second that at least one of my kids trusts me to the max, and this makes me feel good. After all, that's what it's all about right? We get off the roundabout, I pull over; childlock well and truly reinstated and crisis narrowly averted. I congratulate D on her lifesaving skills and choice to trust me, and our topsy turvy world is back in some sort of (chaos theory) order.

I arrive home, unload kids (and shoes) and later exhort myself for yet another day in paradise survived, with kids intact, sanity hanging on in there, and not a trace of care what other people might think. Ding-ding, the fight is far from over and I'm ready for the next round. Bring it.

Welcome to my world baby.


  1. Difficult to believe but this happened to us on what must be the same roundabout 20 years ago. The (apparently) child-locked rear door swung open as we circumnavigated the gyrators system from hell and our lovely daughter started to swing out with it in her car seat. Fortunately her big brother rescued her in the same way. We never did tell the story to the health visitor.
    Perhaps the same scenario is repeated every 20 years to fulfil some weird prophesy

  2. Wow, figured I start at the beginning! I love your style of writing, open, honest and paints a picture for me( which I always love). Felt like I was with you in the store and could see your struggles. Thanks for sharing and opening up your world to us!


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