Thursday, 24 March 2016

Monkey Business

I'm unsure why I felt a trip to the Monkey Forest with my 3 year old would ever be a good idea. 
Probably because it was in the midst of summer and I was in a cheery and positive mood, ready to receive a 'Mum of the year' award for taking my child to a Monkey Forest. How bohemian and spontaneous of me! 
The outing began successfully and I was really getting in to the swing of being laid back, fun mum when my son pointed out that there were some giant trampolines over in the play area and "pleeeaaaasee" could he and his younger cousin go on them. 
Of course!
However, only two seconds after paying a months mortgage for them to access the trampolines my son wanted to get off. 
"Ok Oliver just come off and put your shoes back on and let Ava carry on bouncing. She's enjoying it"
"Come get me!!"
"I can't come and get you sweetheart! Just bounce off!"
I glanced nervously at the trampoline assistant who was staring in to space, oblivious to the fact that my son was starting to freak out. 
"Come get me mummy! I'm scared!"
For F**** sake!
I wave over at the assistant to ask if I can pop on to the trampolines to help my son off, but now she's taking money for more kids to get on. 
Sod it. I can nip on, bounce along the trampoline, pick my son up and bounce back before she even notices.
I jump on. Jesus Christ! No wonder he's scared! Are these safe? How are you even supposed to stay upright! There's too many kids on this bloody thing. I get jostled and jerked to the other side where my son waits for me, now in tears. 
"It's ok, mummy's got you"
He looks back at me with uncertainty in his eyes.
"EXCUSE ME!!" Blasts a woman's voice over a microphone. Yes. A microphone.
"I'm not ON the trampoline as such!! I'm helping my son OFF!"
"I'm trying! I'm trying!! Just tell all these kids to stop bloody bouncing!!"
Several tuts are noticeably heard from onlookers. 
My sons starting to look slightly embarrassed, clearly forgetting this is all his fault.
I manage to scrabble off with my child in tow and then order him to get his shoes on.
Times now up for the rest of the kids on there and I wait to help my niece off and look around for her shoes that have been slung somewhere in her anticipation to get on. 
My sister in law returns back from wherever the hell she has been as this chaos has been unfolding and takes over. At which point I turn to find Oliver.
Oh no wait, I can just about see him.....what's he doing? Wait. Is he? Yes..he is mounting himself over the fence of the monkey enclosure.
"Oliver! Don't you dare go over there!!"
I start running over to the fence with thunder in my eyes and low and he jumps. 
So my son is now in the monkey enclosure. Fabulous! What a wonderful day this has turned out to be!  
As I get nearer to him I order him to come back out. It is strictly forbidden for anyone to access that area. He looks at me. And he runs.
I have no choice. I have to get in. 
Now it's one thing getting told off by a woman half your age for jumping on some kids trampolines. It's a whole new kettle of fish when you then have animal guides shouting at you to "GET OUT OF THE MONKEY ENCLOSURE! YOU ARE IN GREAT DANGER!"
A great many people are now stood at the fence with wide eyes and open mouths. I spot my sister in law hanging her head in shame. 
Anyone would think we were in there with fricking King Kong, not a handful of Barbary Macaques! Although the 'danger' they are referring to could be in relation to the nettles that are stinging my bare ankles. 
Thankfully I caught the little basta..... erm, monkey and we evacuated the enclosure. We then evacuated the Monkey Forest. 
And by evacuated I mean we were escorted out. 
And probably never allowed to return. 

Rookie Mistakes

Saturday, 19 March 2016

A Puzzled Mummy's Guide To Food Shopping With Kids

Grocery shopping with kids.
A sentence that evokes a deep sense of dread in to the pit of every parents stomach.
If you're like me you may have taken the chicken shit way out and took up online grocery shopping. There's some things even the ballsiest of parents can't face. There will come a time however when you need that "top up shop," or your online supermarket has inconveniently failed to deliver a specific item, or provided a crappy substitute (Yes Tesco I'm talking to you). When that time comes you need to have a plan in place. A mental instruction manual if you will. 
With my four years experience of grocery shopping hell, I've come up with a few strategies and rules that I follow religiously in order to save my sanity.

1) Forget the Supernanny shiz. That kind of perfectionism belongs to the organised Pinterest mums who can make personal visual shopping lists for each of their little cherubs. The fact that you've clicked on to this post immediately tells me you're as hopeless as I am and no amount of Jo Frost is going to do the trick. By all means, try it if you like, but try it with the knowledge that there is a 90% chance the technique will fail miserably and you will leave the supermarket with tears in your eyes, or in a straight jacket.

Now we've erased any delusions of a perfect parenting/shopping combination, we can get down to the nitty gritty.  

2) Keep your cool if you forgot snacks (of course you forgot the snacks). There's no need to worry. There's an entire shop full to choose from. Let your child take their pick and then hand the empty wrapper in to the cashier when you pay. Hell, grab one for yourself too! (I'm partial to the odd Jaffa Cake to get me through the aisles). You may get a few 'how trashy!' looks, but like we care if it's a toss up between a 'look' and a tantrum. 

3) Practice the 'park and dump' technique. This is where you find a place to leave your overflowing trolley to make unnecessary, multiple toilet stops with your child. No matter where you leave the trolley it's going to piss someone off, so don't waste your time frantically looking around for the perfect dumping place. You'll never find one. The art of park and dump is one that needs to be perfected so no one sees you dump it and no one sees you retrieve it. You remain a mystery at all times. 

4) Sharpen up on those distraction techniques. You'll need this when you pass an aisle that's likely to make your child whinge and whine for something on the shelves. In my case it's the toy aisle. I'm not sure WHY supermarkets feel the need to sell toys but alas it's something we must accept. (Although I must admit it's pretty handy when you're on your way to your child's friends birthday party and realise you haven't bought them a present.)
You can use pretty much anything as a distraction, 
"oh look!! A zombie!"
Spin the trolley round a few times so everything they see for the next five seconds is a blur
Or perhaps 
"Let's see who can close their eyes for the longest!"
More or less anything will do so long as the focus is shifted from ones chosen aisle.
It may be worth visiting a supermarket your child isn't familiar with for this technique to work. If it's one they know they'll be on to you immediately and you're pretty much screwed as soon as you walk in the shop. 

5) Buy alcohol. It's an incentive to get to the end of this nightmare. 

6) Of all the guidelines THIS is the most important. If you choose to take note of only one of the points I have raised, choose THIS ONE.
NEVER, I repeat NEVER use the self service checkout when accompanied by children. 
In fact, there should be a sign strictly prohibiting this. 
Let me put forward this little scenario to emphasise my point.
First of all, there will be an item that according to your child you simply "must put through first!" (Cakes, sweets chocolate - to name a few examples).
As you scan the item your child will snatch it from you immediately, only for you to be greeted with
The lights will flash red and a stroppy cashier will march over as you waffle on about how your child has taken the item before you had chance to place it in the designated area. They'll sigh, you'll blush and you'll pick up the next item. As you scan it your child will decide they no longer want to hold the previous item and will now decide to place it in the bagging area after all.
There will be another unpleasant interaction with the cashier. 
Said cashier is probably wondering why incapable parents bring their children grocery shopping, before she huffs away for the second time.
You then reach for the next item. It's your empty Jaffa cake box. Knowing the weight isn't going to be accurate you scrunch up your face and close your eyes as you scan it through and place it in the bagging area 

And so it continues....
Play it safe and go to a real checkout with a real human being. It may be embarrassing when you hand over those empty wrappers, but it beats the aforementioned hell by a longshot! 

There's always another option of course, and you won't be thought any less of for taking it. In fact you'll be envied. You can decide that there is no way in hell any grocery item is worth the tirade that is food shopping with a child. So what if you have to skip a few meals this week due to insufficient ingredients? The kids can survive on just beans! Hell, it's practically all they eat anyway! 

Sometimes option "F*** it" is the only strategy you need.