July 9, 2013 by Dadinator
I often go shopping or run errands with The Lad in tow. It’s a chance for quality dad-lad time, and it gives The Mamanator a break, necessary as she often needs nana naps these days (often our impending daughter doesn’t give her the chance, bless…) So I have learnt a thing or two about erranding with a small child. I imagine the rules change when there is more than one though…. But here’s what I have learnt.
There is no 5 minute trips to the shop with a toddler
This institution ceases to exist when you are transporting a young one. There is packing, gathering, shodding (including finding two matching shoes, getting one from the bath tub and the other one from the bookshelf…) and final nappy changes that all have to happen before you leave. Then there is the cat herding exercise that is getting out the door and to the car or down the street.
The errand is secondary to the act of keeping your child occupied
Your primary mission when undertaking these kinds of trips is to occupy the child and keep them out for AS LONG AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE. Let me repeat that AS LONG AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE. You will get no brownie points for efficiency in this game. There is one exception to this rule, if they child falls asleep you ride like the wind to get home.
Consider your mode of child conveyance carefully
Prams are great, unless you are going into a china shop with narrow aisles. Actually why the hell are you going china shopping with a toddler, you crazy bastard? They are also fiddly to fold up etc… Arms are adequate, for a while, but you aren’t superman, whatever your T-shirt says….. Carriers can be a great middle ground, if your child is in the right mood, otherwise they are a nightmare. The final option is walking. It is slow, and you have to keep a firm grip. You should also be prepared to be asked to carry your kid regularly during the trip because they get tired, or like making you suffer, one of the two, so be ready for that. So, to sum up, choose your weapons wisely
You will get looked at
Okay, so it’s the child getting looked at, not you, however sexy you think you are… You may attract random praise too, which I always find slightly awkward. And sometimes shop assistants will tend to your child before they acknowledge you. Them’s just the breaks folks. I also often get strange looks because I tend to hold full-blown, if rather one sided, conversations with The Lad as I stroll through Castlemaine. At least these days I’m not talking to myself….
You also get looks from old women that at times seem full of nostalgia and a kind of sad resignation and regret. I’ve never asked one of them about it, but I imagine sometimes they are thinking back to the fathers of their own children who may have never had the chance to do what I take for granted with my own boy due to social conventions and different ideas of fatherhood. But this is pure speculation….
Things will only happen if you are unprepared
Sure as hell, you don’t pack a nappy, they will poo. You forget the drink bottle, that’s all they want. You don’t have spare clothes, they will be a puddle seeking missile. You forget food, well that’s just crazy talk really… If you bring a fully packed load of baby stuff, they won’t need any of it. That’s just the way it works….
So there it is. Compared to my pre-parenting days, there is a lot more to consider. But in those days I never felt the joy of listening to The Lad’s babble or holding onto his hand. I think I like this more.