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Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Reasons why little children should be kept busy when out and about with their mothers

I was in Marks and Spencer today at the pay counter. At the next till stood a female customer and her little girl of about four.

In clear, carry-across-the-shop-to-the-other-side piping tones, the little girl said, 'Mummy, Mummy. Which bra are you wearing today?'

The mother was cool personified. She bent down to the child, whispering, 'It's the green one, darling. Now, sssh.' Then the mother turned to the assistant and said, 'That was a bit embarrassing. Sorry.'

'I was only checking,' said the child, who sounded most peeved to be shushed. I bet she was thinking, 'Next time, I'll ask about the knickers and see how she likes that.'

Of course, being British, every one of us - sales assistants and customers alike - looked straight ahead, searched in our pockets or checked our phones to prove we hadn't heard. That's why I'm writing about it here. That kind of suppression isn't healthy.

It reminded me of several incidents when I was a young mother.

1. I was at a wedding once, with a young breastfeeding baby son and my three year old daughter. I was trying to be discreet, feeding my son in a corner, my top half, and him, covered in enough scarf to lay across the Pennines. My daughter peered under the scarf, then announced to the whole gathering, 'Mummy, you've got BIG breasts and I've only got little breast pads.'

2. Talking of breast pads, which for the uninitiated are circles of soft material one tucks inside a bra to absorb any leaking breast milk, on another occasion I was at home, breastfeeding as discreetly as possible as we had guests round. I'd placed the breast pad on the table next to me. When I next looked, one of the male guests had put a mug of coffee on it, mistaking it for a coaster. I dared not ask for it back.

Very comfortable inside bras


Not so comfortable


3. Let's steer away from breasts, which I'm sure you're glad to do, but stay on the topic of embarrassing children. I took the same daughter with me when I visited the doctor's surgery. She was five years old. One of the doctor's first questions was 'And how's your weight at the moment, Mrs Hill?' 'Oh,' said my daughter, eager to be helpful. 'Not very good. Mummy's grown out of her diet.'

And if you're thinking Number 3 sounds just like the kind of thing that gets published as Star Letter on the Letters page of a women's magazine, it was, and I won a cracking set of expensive cosmetics that lasted me years.

That will tell you how long ago it was. These days I think you win a tube of toothpaste or a dishcloth, which is no compensation at all for having children who strip you of dignity in public.


27 comments:

  1. That wasn't just any shopping trip then!

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    1. If you eavesdrop as much as I do, no shopping trip needs to be boring!

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  2. Uh oh. You're throwing a real monkey wrench (translation - spanner) into the La Leche League's marketing.

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    1. I'd like to think things are a bit different these days for mums, but I'm not sure.

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    2. Not. A comment on discussion about breastfeeding in public.
      Says he - it doesn't turn me on.
      Excuse me? It's not about HIM.

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  3. When my daughter was about a year old & I was very pregnant with our next one, she & I were marketing in an extremely crowded grocery store. She was seated in the cart facing me & I was wearing maternity pants & a loose fitting smock on top. She had been told to be careful of my stomach because there was a baby in there. She lifted up my top & yelled, "I wanna see the baby!!" I was still young enough at the time to be embarrassed.

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    1. You gotta love 'em. Once you've got over the embarrassment ....

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  4. I don't believe incident # 2. What man knows to use a coaster without being told?

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  5. When my son was four, I left the church service for a quick bathroom trip. I returned, and he asked loudly, Did you need to sit down or stand up?

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. THAT made me snort out loud!!

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  6. I enjoyed the smiles this post brought. I hadn't thought about breast pads for decades.
    We did have one incident, in a crowded cafe, where my little darling's voice chimed clear as any bell, regarding a man seated with his back to us. "Mummy, that man has big ears. No Mummy, they're not big ears, they're ENORMOUS ears". The blush rose from his shoulders, enveloped his ears, and continued up to his cloth cap but he didn't turn around, thank goodness. I still feel bad for him, twenty-some years later:(

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    1. Ha ha! That's what's so brilliant, but also so embarrassing, about the way kids just say what they're thinking. Perhaps, as adults, we just get so mealy-mouthed, always saying what's polite and acceptable.

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  7. I suspect that it is the other shoppers that eavesdrop on us, when I take my elderly mother shopping.

    She has reached the age whereby embarrassment is something that happens to other people - although at least she is marginally less prone to bellowing-inappropriate-comments-across-the-store now that she has hearing aids.

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    1. Ah, yes, the other end of life, and the same loss of inhibition.

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  8. This brings forth the memory of my daughter aged almost three, pointing to a store mannequin and shouting, "mummy, there's a bra just like yours!"

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    1. There are so many reasons to only to go shopping when there's a babysitter around!

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  9. My comment isn't here, and I'm sure it was brilliant.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. Sorry, Janie - manic day and not much time to moderate comments. You're right - it was brilliant! That's so funny - it couldn't be more embarrassing!

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  10. Great post, Fran. Have a lovely weekend. Lots of giggles this end.

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    1. Thanks Nicola. Have a great weekend yourself. Glad you liked the post!

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  11. I once gave an aunt some lava tea light candle holders I'd bought for myself but didn't like. My ( then young ) son blurted out, " Mummy doesn't like those " ! To her credit the aunt replied, " well I do "

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  12. If you can't find a babysitter , a giant lollipop shuts them up quite successfully . But people will sniff at you disapprovingly .
    I suppose it depends how thickskinned you are .

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    1. I think you have to get more thick-skinned if you're going to appear out in public with small children.

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  13. My elder daughter was an early reader (she taught herself, being slightly Aspergery and not very interested in playing with other children) and one day when she was about 4 we were in John Lewis ladies' loo. And she looked at a Tampax machine and enquired in ringing tones, "Mummy, what does 'internal sanitary protection' mean?" The entire looful of women paused and looked at me to hear what I was going to say.

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    1. That's a fabulous story. And, what's the end of it, I wonder. Can you remember? Did you gulp, and explain?

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