Today I was totally prepared for it. There were only a few last minute Christmas items to get and I needed to take my 18 month old with me. Instead of dealing with the inevitable problem of handing over a roll of wrapping paper and plastic Christmas tablecloth with a screaming toddler arching her back as she tries to wrestle her way out of her stroller, today I went in armed and ready.
I took my toddler out when the predicted 34-degree temperature had not been reached yet that is, pre 9am. It was not near naptime, so no fear of over-tiredness, and a fresh nappy was firmly adhered to one bottom. I packed all the essential keep a toddler happy in a shop items: water; sultanas; rice crackers; little plastic animals; and of course her favourite dude. The next step was speed. I had a list prepared and knew exactly which two shops I was going into. Upon our arrival at the dreaded shops we were quickly parked and out of the car.
Okay, into shop number one. The next step in my forward planning was to grab a trolley by going to the department store first. Thankfully, its still a novelty over going into the restricting stroller and the added height provides a better sense of freedom for my toddler. It didnt take long before she was saying the T word.
Spotting them a mile off, no sooner had we entered the store than my child was saying toy and pointing. I ignored it but then a little whine escaped. I had to head it off before a whine became a scream. This called for a quick distraction technique. I reached into my bag, grabbed the lunchbox, opened it up, and handed her a box of her favourite food in the world the sultanas. Plan A worked a dream and I was able to hastily select two appropriate books to give as Christmas pressies to her young friends.
Onto shop number two. Taking the trolley with me, albeit with only two books and a baby bag inside it, I headed into a little two buck shop. I caused a couple of upsets parking my trolley in the narrow aisles and by now the sultanas were finished. After a polite excuse m,e said through one womans clenched teeth, I shifted the trolley as far to one side as possible. Hence my darling grabbed a box full of fragile Christmas ornaments.
It was time for plan B. I moved the trolley once again but to a less enticing section of the store. Out came the rice crackers and my little one happily munched away while I selected Christmas goodies. To my advantage some Christmas lights in the shapes of stars and wheels were strung up and my toddler happily pointed out, Light, light, while I said repeatedly Yes, lights.
We were almost there. Then, just as I was finishing my shopping a lovely older lady said to my toddler, What a good boy you are. For one second I was tempted to say to the woman, Actually shes a girl. She may not have much hair yet but the yellow dress covered in flowers kind of gives it away. Instead I just smiled to myself as I placed a roll of wrapping paper in the trolley and headed for the register.
In the happiest expenditure of money this Christmas season, I handed over the cash. The sour woman at the checkout quickly turned to smiles when my happy little girl waved and said bye-bye as we left the shop. No need to tell them how much preparation and timing had gone into taking out my perfectly behaved princess.