School days are hard.  Mercifully Mr TDF works at the kids’ school so he takes them in the morning leaving me 2.5 hours to get as much work done as I can. I have to be at school by 11.30 to pick my son up from nursery, and then again at 3.15 to collect my daughter, however yesterday I had to throw a 3rd return trip into the mix at 4.30 so my youngest could attend a reception open evening.  Fun.

Usually playing on the tyres is part of my ‘waste as much time as possible before going home’ routine which has the double bonus of keeping the kids busy whilst affording me some dicking about on Facebook time.  In hindsight playing on the tyres would have been the best way to waste the hour, but no, much to their despair I decided to hustle the kids out of the playground and into the car with ambitious plans to do the weekly Aldi shop before returning to the open evening.

The tension in the car rose with the temperature which was about 15 degrees warmer than outside.  Hot and ratty, the kids started to fight.  My daughter wanted her book bag to go on the front seat next to me, but I told her to just put it on the seat between them.  My son immediately swiped the bag causing my highly strung daughter to squeal in protest flailing her legs and kicking my youngest.  My demands of a ceasefire were drowned out with screams and we arrived at Aldi feeling cross (me), hot (son) and tear-soaked (daughter).  Deep breaths.

I put my delicate flower of a girl into the trolley seat, as my youngest wanted to ride on the side of it.  Or so I thought.  What he subsequently revealed was that he *really* wanted to sit in the trolley – a request that was refused on the basis that the food needing to go there. Dramatically he threw himself on the pavement screaming in protest. Calmly explaining my reason for not letting him sit in the trolley fell on deaf ears, so I lifted him off the ground and told him that he was to be my special helper, giving him my shopping list to give his new role some importance.  Watching this from the throne of the trolley seat was my daughter who I’d forgot I had also given a distraction task to on leaving the car – to put my empty Diet Coke can in the bin. My 5 year old had the can held upside down with her tongue shoved inside it.  Carefully removing my daughters anatomy from the sharp edges I turned my attention back to my youngest who in protest of being made my special helper had destroyed my carefully crafted shopping list.  On the verge of losing my shit, I pushed the trolley into the store hoping that he would follow, or someone would adopt him.  Whichever.

He, of course, followed me inside where his screams seemed amplified. Wracking my brains to remember if it was fake cheerios or fake shreddies that we needed was made harder by my son deciding he wanted to push the trolley something my daughter showed her distaste for by kicking him repeatedly.  Remembering to use my p’s and q’s I asked him to not push the trolley into people please, or in fact not to push it anywhere when I needed it next to me, please, but when the trying to remember the shopping list/reminding my son to listen to me/stopping my daughter from kicking him in the face became too much I sharply said to my son “I. Told. You. Not. To. Do. That.” I must have been a touch scary, as the man behind us jumped and dropped his onions.  *Deep Breath*

Hauling my daughter out of the trolley seat and plonking my son in I decided to plough on. As we rounded the corner onto the last aisle my ever so weak bladdered daughter announced her need to pee. For those of you not in the know, Aldi doesn’t have customer toilets. It’s the black cloud to their silver lining of marvellously cheap food. Having potty trained both my kids whilst being an Aldi customer I am not a stranger to whipping them outside to have a wee in a grid, but today I couldn’t face it.  Begging my daughter to hold it in I distracted her with the cheese selection.  Excited about the prospect of orange cheese (I decided now wasn’t the time to explain that it was basically the same as our normal cheese but with food colouring in), the need to pee was postponed.

At the checkout, I unloaded the trolley quickly whilst trying to save the breakables and squashables from the heavy hands of my children.  One of the reasons I love this particular Aldi (Offerton branch to those who are interested) is the staff.  They are all so kind and either don’t mind or internalise their distaste when I pack my groceries straight into bags, so with the queues growing and me packing as quickly as humanly possible of course it was the moment when my daughter announced “Mummy, I need to wee right now”.  Wide-eyed, slightly panicky and at a loss for what to do I begged her to hold on and not pee on Aldi’s floor.  The checkout assistant, Charlie immediately called a colleague over and asked him to let us into ‘the back’ so she could use the staff toilet.  Abandoning my son, my half packed shopping and an increasingly long queue I dashed to the loo where my daughter’s relief was immediate and lengthy.  Now I don’t know what happened to me in ‘the back’ *chortle*, but calm washed over me, and we returned to my unperplexed son and the wonderful Charlie packing my bags for me with much more care than I would have done myself.  Thanking her profusely and apologising to the queue we paid and left the store.

Back in the car, I wept, my faith in humanity marginally restored. A family shopping trip was a terrible idea, and I should have known that however it’s the Charlie’s in this world that make things bearable.  I’m sure that she won’t come across this blog, but maybe if we can all be a little more Charlie, then our outlooks may be a bit brighter, and that 3rd trip to school seem more achievable.