Sunday, 28 January 2007


I've been shopping with the triplets. Not all at the same time, of course. That would be suicide. If I take them singly, I can almost guarantee there'll be no fighting and brawling or rolling around in the gutters. And I get some quality, one-to-one time, and can actually have a conversation with each of them. I've planned this for when Dig's back. He's hanging around on the sofa now looking ill and miserable, so it seems like a good day to leave him in charge of two children, and not three.

First it's with Shark to Tesco, to get some emergency lunch. I hate Tesco. I would call them a bunch of scoundrels, villains, unethical charlatons and rogues if I could get away with it. But I go shopping there. Mostly because they're open 24 hours so I don't have to go shopping with children. Going shopping with children is even worse than shopping at Tesco.

With Shark in charge, it's painful. She has to push the trolley. She has no sense of direction so I apologise all the way round the fruit and veg. After a while she's not strong enough to push either, so lolls against it, not giving up, with a scowl on her face, blocking the aisles and progressing at a speed of one centimeter every ten minutes. After five minutes I abandon her and run round the shop gathering ingredients. Since it doesn't seem much like one-to-one quality time I give in to a demand for mango.

The next quality-time trip is with Squirrel, to John Lewis furnishing department. I'm persuading her to move into the bedroom with Shark, but she says she's not going unless she gets a princess room. I say she can have a gold and white princess room and not a pink princess room because the sight of all that pink is going to make me retch and I have to live there too. So we go to look at gold and white things.

Squirrel is destined to be a Woman of Quality. She immediately settles on a lead crystal chandelier with gold metalwork. A snip at £1000. Then she eyes up a pure white rug at £750. She wants a decorative curtain around her bed, so I show her some net curtains at £2.25 a metre and suggest she could paint them with her glitter glue. She says that's not a good idea and heads off to the bridal fabric with hand-sewn spangly beads and sequins in floral pattern at £28 a metre. I say to her that's very good for a fact-finding, ideas-generating mission and we come home with a metre of sparkly gold fabric from the reduced bin for £4. Now if there's a little lad out there destined for Squirrel, don't say you weren't warned.

Finally, it's Tiger's turn. Off we go to Ikea. By this time I'm getting a bit tired of quality time and feel a bit truculent. Tiger spends most of her time complaining that we can't just walk into a shop and see exactly what we want the moment we want to. I don't know where she gets that attitude from. She tells me to stop complaining about things that don't matter, like hurty feet, and I tell her to stop being an irritating six-year old who does nothing but complain. So I can't say the trip to Ikea was a good quality-time experience either.

Next time, Dig can have the quality time. I know where they'd go. Shark would get to the bottle shop, Squirrel to the electronics shop, and Tiger to the DIY shop to look at cisterns again. At least that would balance out the cooking and interior design. And I'd get to lie on the sofa, reading the newspaper, with my feet up.

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