Psychological warfare in the supermarket

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If there’s a chore I’ve long disliked, it’s grocery shopping at the supermarket. Okay, it’s not grocery shopping that bothers me so much, but grocery shopping when I have the children with me.

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Going shopping with young children is like a form of psychological warfare. My children are good, but I still win the occasional battle.

Part of the reason I dislike it so much is a sense of guilt I feel at bringing them with me. It’s always struck me as a very, very dull task for the kids to tolerate.

When Helen was younger she could get very vocal if told we were going shopping, especially if it involved a trip to a supermarket. Times have changed. My kids are older and I’ve come to dislike grocery shopping for another reason.

Helen and Izzy, you see, have wised up to the fun they can have when daddy takes them shopping. Let’s not downplay this, these kids aren’t simply having fun at my expense. Oh no, it’s psychological warfare.

As we pull up in the car park the requests start pouring in: “Daddy, can we have a treat?….Daddy, can we have chocolate?….Remember you said I could have something for doing well in my karate / swimming / spellings back in March?”

These requests can, I find, be easily brushed off. There will then be a disagreement about whether to get a large or small trolley before heading into the store.

This, I swear, is simply to wear me out. The fruit aisle passes with relative ease although I often find I go into it to buy bananas and leaving weighed down with bananas, mango, kiwi and grapes because that’s what the kids want.

The problem here is that I may not want to spend that much money, but it is hard to turn down a child’s request for fruit. I’m always minded to buy it because it’s great that they’ll eat the stuff. I was a horrendously fussy eater as a child so if my daughters ask for something healthy, I’m quick to give in.

In the dairy aisle Izzy will distract me because it’s cold. Somewhere around the chilled fruit-juice chiller, one of the kids will find some horrendous fructose-based concoction they want “because it’s my favourite.”

We’ll settle for something with half the sugar content, but I’ll still feel annoyed. Somewhere around the wine and beer aisle my kids will have a running race.

I’ll look on, horrified, and stop them before bottles get knocked over. It’s never actually happened, but the mere chance terrifies me.

Somewhere near the crisps I’ll have to turn down repeated requests for sub-standard potato-based products dripping in saturated fat. If they catch me off guard, I may give in to a request for crackers. I know they’re nutritionally bankrupt, but this, I figure, is a small step above nutritionally harmful.

By now my kids are actually enjoying the shopping experience. I think it’s an age thing.

When younger they generally found it boring. These days they know they can pester, cajole, badger and blackmail knowing they will leave the store with something.

It may be a comic. It may be sweets, albeit within parameters set by me (“nothing pink, green or red, no lollipops, nothing made by this manufacturer or that manufacturer and absolutely no pick ‘n mix”). Whatever it is, they know they will get something.

Once I’ve paid for the goods and tried to leave the store, there’s the challenge of persuading the kids that paying £1 to ride on a fiberglass motorbike or pilot a helicopter festooned with discarded kebab meat does not represent good value for money.

Yes my friends, my kids have progressed. Gone are the tantrums and upset of the old days. They’ve worked out they can play this shopping game to their own benefit. If they can catch me off guard and wear me down, I might, just possibly, give in and provide treats of some description.

I have a sneaky admiration for my offspring. When I have no choice but to take them shopping, they see an opportunity and they seize it.

That said, I had to take the kids shopping just the other day. The above accurately describes what happened.

Despite the many requests and constant pestering, I looked into that shopping bag when we left and felt a certain sense of satisfaction. There were Quorn pieces for the kids’ dinner, dried mango bought at Helen’s request and two packs of pistachio nuts, purchased because both kids love them. There were no sweets in that bag whatsoever. There wasn’t even a comic.

Yeah kids, you’re good, you’re very good. Sometimes, just sometimes, I’m even better.

Do you relate to this take of psychological warfare? Do your kinds grind you down on shopping trips? Do you give in or hold firm? Please do hit me with your stories and leave a comment below.


2 thoughts on “Psychological warfare in the supermarket”

  1. This is why we order our groceries online! That said, we often have to go to a smaller local supermarket to get things we’ve run out of and it’s hell with the kids. They know exactly how to wind me up in there. So much so that I always have a strong urge to buy wine when they come with me…

    1. We have shopped online in the past and do it from time to time. It’s all the little bits and pieces that you run out of like milk or bread. These scenarios generally come up when I have to pop into the shops on the way home from school to get just one or two bits. needless to say, I always come away with considerably more!

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