Its ‘back to school’ again. Last evening, we went to the supermarket to stock our larder with things to put into the children’s lunch boxes – wraps, biscuits, juice boxes, mayonnaise, butter, cheese spread, mortadella, peanut butter…If you’re right now judging my parenting values based on what goes into my kids’ lunchbox, it’s fine.
That trip to the supermarket was a trip to redemption and I returned guilt-free.
The store was crowded with people pushing trolleys filled with the exact same things that I spoke of above and others, belonging to the same category that are close cousins of ‘Junk food.’. As I maneuvered my way through the worried moms and the children in tow…
” Mom, please pick up a bottle of Nutella.”
“We already have Nutella in the fridge. Finish that first.”
The speaker was a teenage girl around 14 or 15, who didn’t show any signs of having the bottle of sugar laden chocolate spread.
‘So there were still moms who gave Nutella sandwiches to school, no matter all those videos that came out stating that Nutella was a bad option,’ I thought to myself as I picked up the rice batter for to make steamed rice cakes for next day’s breakfast. The week’s plan had been put up on the fridge : breakfast and lunch box menus; the two items that have the ability to destroy a mother’s sanity and create a colossal meltdown at home.
After picking up the items, I headed to the cash-counter; the one where just one lady was standing. Her things had been stacked up into her shopping bag and she stood with her credit card in her hand.
‘This shouldn’t take long,’ I explained trying to pacify my husband who showed signs of agitation at this requirement for last minute trip to the supermarket, the night before school was to begin after a month and a half of holidays. It didn’t help to clarify that where there are kids, one can never stock food. For while you think its there, you only find boxes and wrappers placed in the very same position that you left them except that they are empty!
Without further do, I put the things from my trolley in front of the cashier, after placing the ‘next customer’ placard. One minute, two minutes, five minutes we kept waiting – the cashier, the lady and us. Nothing happened. And then the lady looked at us and said,
‘I’m sorry but I forgot to pick up a bottle of Nutella and you know schools are beginning tomorrow,’ she explained. I had to understand. After-all, I was a mother too. I smiled my most ‘understanding- mother- smile.’
Five minutes later, we were still waiting. The supermarket guy returned to say, ‘Ma’am the big bottle of Nutella is out of stock. Should I get you the smaller bottle?’
“Yes. Ok. It’ll help to have it for this week at-least,” she said apologetically, half-looking at the supermarket guy and half at the lady at the cashier and me.
That meant another 5 minutes. I looked up at my husband to give him the same ‘sorry’ look that the lady had given me, only to find him scowling at the sales promotion staff at the supermarket who had decided to hound him, seeing him standing around the cash counter, ‘free.’
“Sir, would you like to taste these new Nachos with dips. They are a great snack for kids. In wheat, barley…”
“Sir, do you have the supermarket loyalty card?”
“Sir have you heard of this new promotion. If you spend Rs 5000, you’ll get vouchers worth…”
Turning to me, he said, ‘You finish this and come. I’ll wait outside.’
I was glad he hadn’t jumped down their throats or frowned at the lady in front. As frustrating as it was, the sales-promotion staff were just doing their jobs. And who knows if the lady was a parent at my children’s school – I certainly did not want to begin the school year, with the ‘uncooperative parents’ label.’
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