Terri Psiakis: Beware of booby traps

From a file marked “Well, DUH!” comes new research suggesting most parents would love to shop in peace, without their children’s tantrums, pestering and toilet-runs. Honestly. How ground-breaking. I’m amazed they didn’t go further here and discover that most people in general would love to shop in peace, without other people’s children’s tantrums and pestering. (The toilet-runs can stay as they’re the only sure-fire way to guarantee that at some stage those kids will have to abruptly leave the shop.) 

Mind you, I say all this as a parent: the only thing that riles me more than my own kid’s misbehaviour in a shop is some other kid doing their block – mainly because you’re not allowed to threaten other people’s kids with a loss of their TV privileges when they act up (don’t ask me how I know).

The research comes courtesy of a poll of 1100 people carried out by online community Mouths Of Mums* and in response, major shopping centres are apparently considering more child-minding services for customers. I’m in two minds about this. On the one hand, I support it: last week, The Sprout and I were at our local shopping plaza, and to reward her for not going on any rampages while I shopped, I let her run off some energy at the plaza’s indoor play centre. While we were there, she was repeatedly hassled by a boy aged about five, and after waiting for more than 20 minutes and not seeing a parent, guardian or older sibling around to step in and set the boy straight, I asked him where mum or dad was and received the answer “Kmart”. Kmart was a good 10-minute walk over two plaza levels away. Hence my support of real, supervised child-minding services at shopping centres as opposed to just ditching your kid somewhere and hoping for the best.

On the other hand, however, shopping with young kids is one of the major rites of passage as a parent. Having someone look after your kids while you shop means you’ll never get to figure out how to handle what to do when they start screaming for the chocolates for sale at the supermarket checkout (I explain that while yes, they do look delicious, they have in fact already been licked by old men and that’s why they’re up the front of the shop). Not shopping with kids means you’ll never truly appreciate how fast you can evacuate while still looking perfectly calm and blameless when surprise toddler vomit occurs in the middle of Lincraft (I still feel a smidge guilty about that one.)

Most importantly, if you never shop with young kids you’ll miss the pleasure of discovering the information they deem appropriate to share with your fellow shoppers. While waiting in the busy service queue of a major department store recently, The Sprout turned to the guy behind us and announced “I had a shower with mummy today”. “That’s nice,” he offered with a look that plainly begged, “Please stop this story here”.

The Sprout then turned to me and continued loudly: “I like your boobies, mummy. They’re very low. Maybe one day when I’m big I can have low boobies, too?”

I bloody hope so. Just for the payback.

*As a mum, I can tell you with some authority that the number one thing you’ll find inside Mouths of Mums is Crusts Of Toast. 

■ You can follow Terri on Twitter @terripsiakis

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