I take in a happy, giggling child to the supermarket and inevitably leave with a red-faced screaming toddler. Equally, I have to steel myself for the trip; I skip in nonchalantly but leave on the verge of a migraine.
Now my question is why? Gertie is generally well-behaved and helpful, and Gilby will often sleep through the whole process, so it has nothing to do with the children being difficult. What exactly happens then, between the vegetable aisle and the checkout?
I have tried to analyse the experience. My mood takes a dive with the initial battle for a parking space. I don't even bother with the parent and child parking: those sacred spots are evidently reserved for more divine beings.
And then I put it down to a combination of terrible acoustics that amplify and simultaneously muffle the sound of other screaming toddlers, the unnatural headache-inducing lighting, and the trolley rage caused by overcrowding in too-narrow aisles.
Finally, and this is the clincher - the dispute over the special offer prominently displayed (and probably prompting a spontaneous purchase) that then doesn't materialise when you get to the till.
Depending on which supermarket we are in (and I change regularly in the vain hope that things may be better elsewhere) this results in either a 'supervisor to checkout 3' or another queue at customer services. Is it worth it for the 87p saving, I have to ask myself. "Yes," I screech back internally, 'Or they have won"!
Somehow all these things must impact on Gertie too, so that for no discernable reason she is in her own two-year-old rage by the end. I will monitor the age at which it seems to effect Gilbert. Or perhaps it is a gender-thing: my husband seems far less prone to Supermarket-Affected-Disorder.
Thank goodness for online grocery shopping. Worth every single penny, I say.