Mum’s the Word

Supermarket Survival: When Good Kids Go Bad

By Taryn Dryfhout

Grocery shopping with children is the great cosmic joke. While many everyday things become a challenge once you have children, supermarket shopping is a special kind of torture.
Going to the supermarket is not a leisurely activity – I don’t go unless I absolutely have to. It’s a trip reserved for Class A emergencies like running out of nappies…or Diet Coke. I’d rather re-enact scenes from a Stephen King novel than go to the supermarket with my kids, but, we seem to keep eating, so it’s become a weekly ritual.

Warm and fuzzy parenting blogs will tell you that grocery shopping can be one of those enriching experiences between you and your children, and that pre-planning can make it a positive, productive event. I call bullshit. The very sight of ‘shopping’ in my diary each week strikes dread and terror in the pit of my stomach, as I anticipate the things which will take place when I go:

• On arrival, the crying begins as the youngest realises that he must sit in the front of the trolley and cannot walk alongside the others
• Even from the child seat, the toddler will pull out the bottom piece in a pyramid of avocado’s, aiding the escape of a hundred pieces of fruit along the floor of the produce department
• I will be told that every vegetable I add to the trolley tastes like boogers
• Every second person I pass will ask if my five and six-year-old are twins
• Ten minutes into the grocery shop, one of the kids will need to go to the toilet. This is not a drill – you will have a maximum of twenty seconds notice before they announce that “it’s coming ouuuuut”. And no, toileting everyone before you leave home won’t prevent this situation
• I will have to repeatedly decline buying the following: coconuts, live lobsters, milk straws and Band-Aids with cartoon characters on
• When we get to the chilled area, the kids, in melodramatic fashion, will act as if they are in the Himalayas. Apparently, they can sneak out into the morning frost in their underwear, but need a thermal sleeping bag to survive the cheese section
• Around this time, there will also be cases of extreme hunger and thirst manifesting. If untreated, I am assured that death is imminent
• I will have to apologise to at least two old ladies, a deli assistant and a man on crutches for being flung to the ground by a trolley steered by a five-year-old
• The begging begins at the entrance and culminates with an on-the-ground-kicking-and-screaming tantrum when we get to the checkout and the chocolate is in sight
• As I place my groceries onto the conveyor belt, I will find at least five items that I did not put in the trolley. If I’m distracted, the little smugglers may even get them successfully through the checkout
• My two-year-old, who has the wingspan of a wandering albatross, will now pull all the gum off the side of the counter and press all the buttons on the Eftpos machine
• Two of the kids will run out in the car park and cause a pile up
• I will return home, unload everything and pass out

There is some sort of voodoo in the supermarket that makes ordinary children become feral as soon as they enter. Is it the heavy fluorescent’s that turn them into wild howler monkeys, the go-cart style trolleys, or the sheer amount of sugar that calls to them from the shelves? Whatever the source, the change is instantaneous and is akin to what I can only imagine is a Red-Bull drinking hyena on steroids…multiplied by the amount of children you have.

The madness must stop. I am throwing in the towel and getting my groceries delivered from now on. Thank God for Countdown online.

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