I amble into the supermarket, Mother Dearest and her shopping trolley by my side. My mind is swarming with the possibilities of what culinary delights we may happen upon in this temple of provision and sustenance. I am looking forward to choosing ingredients for the tasty Calzone I will be preparing for the family in two nights' time.
We enter via the bakery, and things are looking up. I am itching to race over to the open refrigerated shelves where the cheeses and sausage meats are stacked, so that I may select only the finest for my debut as a prime Italian chef. However, I elect to stay with the woman who brought me into the world, and “help” her with the bread, fruit and vegetable selection.
But then, the inevitable, but no less dreaded, happens.
It begins as a distant whine, like a Klaxon siren – but then, as it nears me, it gains a more primal, human quality. My eyes widen in horror as all other noises of the hustle and bustle of the shopping mall melt away, and there is only the anguished, stroppy screams of a scorned toddler.
I slowly turn around to behold the hellish phenomenon creeping ever closer. There, weaving through the fruit stands, is a trolley housing a child that would barely be two years old. Pushed around by a young woman who is looking a bit frazzled and worse for wear (and who can blame the poor thing?) the little girl is the very picture of ungrateful dissatisfaction with her circumstances. Maybe she didn't get that toy or chocolate bar she wants so very much. Maybe she had been reprimanded for snatching something off a shelf. Or maybe she is just tired and wants to go home, electing to take it out on her long-suffering Mother. Whichever option came to pass, her mouth is wide open, her eyes are red-rimmed and wet, and her cheeks could pass for Niagara Falls with the amount of tears running down them.
I stand there, frozen by the annoyingness of this unfortunate event. I try not to stare – as aggravating as the child's yells are, I do not want to make the Mother feel worse than she already does. But I cannot help but be slightly vexed by the fact that the kid is even here in the first place.
I mean, come on. I know that a shopping centre is a public place. I know that people go there for a reason (mainly TO KEEP THEMSELVES ALIVE). But if it's a public place, then surely there should be some consideration for the needs of others – when I'm walking around and trying to think or trying to speak to someone, I shouldn't have to be thrown off or interrupted by a 2-year-old attempting to shred their vocal cords.
So what can be done about this? The kids don't like the situation, I don't like the situation, so really the best option is to ban all children under the age of 7 from shopping centres... or, at the very least, from the supermarkets. Yes, there are those that won't like it, but wouldn't you agree that the benefit outweighs the cost? The young Mums won't get embarrassed, the kids won't get agitated and their vocal cords will live to fight another day, and I get to walk around the shops in zen mode forever more.
You know it works.