“I see you haven’t learnt yet”

“I see you haven’t learnt yet”, said a genial man pushing his trolley past in the fruit shop. I looked up at him briefly with a puzzled but acknowledging grin, then turned my eyes back to where my two-year-old was edging into ever more precarious perches on the trolley seat, trying to get more peanuts in his scoop before pouring it into the plastic bag I was holding. It was a very important effort – you couldn’t have just any amount of peanuts, there had to be Enough. Scooping peanuts was a Very Important Job that Mummy had assigned him, and he was determined to do it right. Right, in this case, meaning “lots”.

With that fractional pause, the genial man continued “Learnt not to take the kids shopping with you. They always spend all your money.”

Which is funny, because for me this rarely happens. They can ask, but usually get told “No”. Unless we’re at the fruit and veg shop, in which case it can be pretty open slather for anything that’s in season and the kids know it. Sometimes they take shameless advantage of my weakness, but I’m rather pleased with them when they do.

I steadied the two-year-old by the back of his pants yet again and gave the genial man a “happy parent” grin back. The one that says “Yeah, I know where you’re coming from, we parents are all on the same team”. And answered “Oh, no, they’re great to have with me. They insist I put broccoli in the trolley.”

He gave me the same cheerful but puzzled look I’d given him seconds before, nodded and pushed on.

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