During a natter with a friend today, we began a game of ‘I’m a worse parent than you because…’ . You may have played this yourself at some point, but if not, allow me to familiarise you with the rules. One of you (and I suspect this is a game played mostly by mothers, as fathers a) think they’re great at everything and b) talk about football and ale and stuff) has to start the game by ‘confessing’ a parental slip-up. It’s important to note that the ‘game’ is not referred to as a game, it is a ‘supportive chat’. The other player then sympathises briefly, commiserates on the feelings of guilt, and then POW! trumps the misdemeanour with one of their own.
Well, I have no intention of boring you with the commentary of today’s preliminary rounds, suffice to say that I won. And here for your delectation is my winning entry.
It’s an old story, and I’ve entertained others in the past with it, but it’s 100% true and there’s a few years wear left in it yet. The incident occurred when my son, now almost 20, was only a few weeks old, and I have been pleading ‘baby brain’ as the excuse for it ever since.
Visiting the supermarket with a very small child in a pushchair means that you can’t use a supermarket trolley (at least it did in the days before baby car seats, and in fact I didn’t have a car anyway), and so my usual technique was to balance a wire basket on top of the pushchair hood. This particular day I was more absent minded than usual and halfway around the supermarket I remembered something I wanted a few aisles back. I picked up the basket and popped back to collect the overlooked item and then, finishing the shopping, I paid and headed home.
I confess that on the way home I did have that niggling feeling something was wrong! I remember checking my pockets for purse and keys several times, and mentally running through my shopping list over and over again, but I’d remembered everything we needed. Arriving home I unlocked the front door and turned to lift the pushchair over the step – and that’s when it hit me…
The supermarket was about ten minutes walk from my flat and I’ve never been much of an athlete – but it took me about thirty-seven seconds to make it back to where my sweet, innocent, helpless babe was parked, next to the beans!