Going to the supermarket with our son in a sling has almost become part of our weekend routine and has become an unlikely father and son bonding activity. I normally drive there (with our son in his car seat rather than a sling!) while my wife has an opportunity to have a rest or get on with things that wouldn’t be so easy with our son around. I’ve also grown to love carrying our son in a sling as I can see him and he seems to enjoy being able to look around and people watch.
Going round the supermarket with our sun in a sling is an activity that can be broken into a series of challenges. I’ve talked before about what parenting and game shows have in common, and our shopping trip can be a bit like a cross between Supermarket Sweep and the Crystal Maze. In fact, it can be broken down into five main challenges:
1. Strapping son into the sling. I normally carry our son in something that is a bit of a cross between a sling and a baby carrier. Putting him in the sling is normally fairly easy, but fastening him in and tightening up the straps on the side can be a bit of a challenge. I think that I’ve got more used to this since the start of our regular shopping trips.
2. Keeping our son happy while we’re going round the supermarket. Normally this isn’t too much of a problem as he seems to enjoy looking around at all the items on the shelves and the other shoppers. On one trip, I remember him trying to grab the shopping list a few times and letting him hold it while I filled up a paper bag with mushrooms. By the time I had done so, he’d torn the corner off the shopping list and seemed like he was about to see what it tasted like. Thankfully I noticed just in time.
Last month, I wanted to try out a few tablet computers in the supermarket and this turned out to be a bit of a challenge as our son wasn’t all that keen at remaining in the same place for too long. He also seemed keen to try out a few himself as he reached out from a sling. When I told my wife about this, she made a very good point about this being a good test of potential tablets for a new dad like myself. I now have a tablet and have managed to prevent our son getting his hands on it so far. Like I thought would be the case, it isn’t as good for using to play peek-a-boo as my laptop but I still like it.
3. Not making an idiot of yourself by talking in a child-like manner. I do chat away to our son quite a lot while we’re going round the supermarket and do feel slightly self-conscious about this sometimes. That said, I do think that becoming a parent has lowered my inhibitions somewhat. Only a few weeks ago, I found myself singing along to ‘What does the fox say’ while going round the supermarket.
4. Remembering that our son is not riding in the trolley. On at least one occasion, I have gently pushed the shopping trolley backwards and forwards in the supermarket while looking at products on the shelf. This sort of thing might help to soothe a child but our son’s still not sat in a shopping trolley yet. I think that this behaviour is an extension of the phenomenon of still swaying from side-to-side after you’ve stop holding your child and handed him/her to someone else.
5. Keeping son asleep. After a while, our son normally does to sleep in the sling while we’re going round the supermarket. I don’t blame him as it’s perhaps not the most exciting excursion in the local area. Keeping him asleep is normally fairly easy but gets more difficult when it comes to unloading the trolley at the checkout, then packing the shopping into bags and putting it back into the trolley. I felt that I excelled myself recently when I managed to avoid waking up our son during this process a few weeks ago, especially as I managed to get some cherry ice cream out from the back of a freezer without him so much as doing a little wriggle.
Despite living near a village called Sling and being a big fan of baby wearing, I have to confess that we bought a buggy (a.k.a. stroller) a few months ago. It felt a bit weird when I first took my son round a shop in it. I felt like I was doing something wrong, it was like I had decided not to get out of the car and drive it round the store. If you’re from the local store in question, please don’t worry; I reckon I’d struggle to get our not particularly big Skoda through your front doors and I definitely couldn’t drive it round the the aisles.
My wife and I waited until our son was about six months old before getting a buggy, and I think that this surprised some people. We didn’t feel the need of a buggy at the time and now generally use the buggy once or twice a week. I had thought that maybe I’ll send up doing a post ‘shopping with our son in a stroller’ a few months down the line, but I generally prefer the word ‘buggy’ to stroller and think that ‘shopping with our son in a sling’ sounds a bit more punchy.
In fact, I think that ‘shopping with our song in a sling’ sounds like it could be a line from some sort of parenthood-inspired rap. I just need to come up with more than one line now. Rapping may not be something that’s particularly associated with rural North Wales or my native Scotland, but I’m aware of several Welsh language rappers and rap groups that have come from very near to where we live. In addition, I recently watched a documentary about a Scottish rap duo called The Great Hip-hop Hoax in which two Scottish rappers respond to being ridiculed from rapping and sounding Scottish by pretending to be American in order to get a record deal. I wonder if I could get signed up by a major label if I put on an American accent and penned a few more lyrics about going shopping with our son in a sling…
If you were to do a rap about being a parent, what would it’s title be? Have you discovered any unexpected activities that have allowed you to bond with your children?
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