THE ART OF PACKING

Before I had children, I use to leisurely stroll each and every aisle of the supermarket, picking things off the shelf when I remembered that I needed them. I didn’t bother with a grocery list. There was only two of us and if I forgot something then I’d return another day. No biggie.
Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought of this simple act of necessity as being an enviable task. I miss the days of languid and uninterrupted meandering, just like how I wish I had luxuriated in more sleep. Oh, how I miss those days!

I go to the supermarket with either one or two kids in tow and the most pleasurable part is getting the kids back into the car and going home. I don’t know about other parents but to me having two pipsqueaks continually saying, “Mummy, can we buy this?” and “Mummy, can I get that?” drives me insane.

I almost never leave home without a grocery list, and I speed down aisles to collect items like I’m on a My Kitchen Rules cook-off. I obviously pass the chip, chocolate, and soft drink aisles because seriously, who needs the drama of wrestling contraband off a raging toddler?

Normally, I go through self-serve because it’s the quickest way out of the store. With a toddler that can drop a tantrum like a hot potato, it’s best not to procrastinate in a place with too many temptations and “get the hell out of dodge” is my shopping mantra.

Today I had too many things in the shopping trolley to go through self-serve and seeing that Henry seemed eerily calm, I opted to go through checkout. I methodically place items in groups that I hope get bagged together. The young man at the register begins packing the bags, arranging items in particular positions like he’s a Tetris prodigy. Simply perfect for my anally retentive grocery packing personality. I can appreciate good packing skills. No one wants a dirty tango between raw meats and fruit.

As he continues to pack at the rate of one item per minute, Henry starts to grumble about wanting to hop out of the trolley. I try to placate him with a yoghurt and silently pray for the dude to hurry the hell up. Henry’s about to throw down and no one will be ready for the impending Hiroshima-like explosion that will be unleashed.

I twiddle my thumbs, glancing nervously at Henry’s whining and thrashing about. I give checkout dude one more minute for good measure but my eye twitches at the sight of him taking out a punnet of tomatoes and replacing them with the punnet of mushrooms. They are the exact same size!

“Mummy!” Henry wails.

I suddenly jump into action. I grab the tomatoes off the dude and shove them into a bag.

“How about you scan and I’ll help bag,” I tell him with a smile that’s too wide to be considered normal.

He recoils at the sight of my crazed look and starts quickly scanning. I shove items left, right, and centre into bags, practically arm sweeping them in. I work at a rapid pace and only pause for breath once I hand over my card to pay.

I stand back and take stock of my surroundings. The people behind me and the checkout dude are giving me strange looks. I start from the realisation of my erratic behaviour. Embarrassed, I quickly leave with my screaming toddler. It’s a sobering moment of self-awareness at how different my life has become.

Do I regret having kids? Definitely not.

Would I change anything? Probably not.

Oh, wait. Yes. Avoid the Tetris guy.

Copyright © 2019, KN J Tales and Snippets. All rights reserved.

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LUNCH

Anyone on a budget would know that a surefire way of saving some coin is by packing your work lunch. People will tell you it’s healthier and there is the added bonus of reducing food wastage by eating leftovers. Plus health nuts will tell you that buying a salad drenched in salad dressing will give you a bunch of unwanted calories.

So being the good mum that I try to be, I pack myself an adult sized version of the kid’s school lunches.

A piece of fruit, some low-fat yoghurt, a ham salad sandwich, a handful of crackers and water. Done. Perfectly acceptable nutritious meal.

After all, being a parent means being a role model and you should practice what you preach right?

So as I stop into the bakery nearby work and grab myself a full cream mocha and an egg and bacon roll, I justify it to myself that it’s a necessary evil. I was too busy with the morning rush to have a proper breakfast. And we all know that having breakfast is the most important meal of the day. What’s ten dollars to the budget?

Lunch rolls around and I realise that I left my healthy lunch at home. Was my subconscious mind trying to sabotage my healthy eating? Probably.

I line up with the masses and order myself some overly priced rice paper rolls. If I have to buy lunch then I might as well treat myself. I’ve jumped into a pool of denial and it looks like I’m staying. What’s another fifteen dollars? We’ve blown the budget and the healthy diet anyway. I eat my oh-so yummy meal and push that twinge of guilt deep deep down.

The afternoon flunk creeps up on me and I need a chocolate. The very same chocolate I tell my daughter she shouldn’t have because there’s too much sugar and sugar is the damn devil!

I deliberate for all of about a minute on the pros and cons of unwanted calories. Oh heck! Who am I kidding? I’m eating that damn chocolate.

Copyright © 2019, KN J Tales and Snippets. All rights reserved.

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IT’S A JUNGLE OUT THERE

Mayhem. Manic. Madness. Mental. Monkeys.

So many M words to describe a play centre on a weekend.

To children it’s a happy place to run amok. A place where they can gorge on junk food. A place where they are given more freedom while still under the parental eye. Supposed relaxed parents sit around savouring good coffee nearby. It’s a safe and secure place. Idealistically a parent or carer’s refuge.

In reality, it looks more like a jungle of mayhem with children of all ages running in random directions, hyped up on sugar and a teardrop away from epic tantrums. Obnoxiously loud music reverberates around the cavernous room coupled with the cacophany of sounds from excited children. If you didn’t have a headache upon entering, you’re bound to leave with one.

Once you relinquish your child at the entrance of the gym, sighting them is as rare as a deep sea Oarfish in Japan. Unless of course, you have a toddler that needs your assistance then you must enter the jungle, fight your way through suffocating high and low terrains, breathe in the cloying smell of sweat and inevitable get stuck in some netting.

Not to mention the minefield of social etiquette for ‘playing nice’ and ‘taking turns’ because really, it’s a free-for-all when we’re dealing with young children.

So when I find myself crawling through an uncomfortably small tube after Henry, sweating like I’m dying in Bikram yoga, I momentarily imagine being stuck. I figure at least I might get a quick nap in while management tries to pry my ass out. My daydreaming is shortlived as I see Henry pushing another toddler over. I rush over and grab Henry’s hand from striking the poor kid again, who is wailing on the floor next to his mother.

“I am so sorry. Is your child ok? Henry doesn’t normally hit other kids. I’m not sure why he did that.” I ramble out an apology, make Henry say sorry and hightail away.

After the third victim of Henry’s outlash, I call it day. There is only so much glaring from parents (rightfully so) and apologising I can do.

I drag a screaming and kicking Henry away from the gym.

“Sorry mummy. Sorry, little boy!” Henry wails.

I sigh in defeat as I carry my mad monkey out of this jungle, envisaging a bunch of laughing chimpanzees throwing their poop at the back of my head for not predicting this tantrum.

Copyright © 2019, KN J Tales and Snippets. All rights reserved.

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