Learner Dad: 'I’m afraid of being in a shop with my kids'

Learner Dad: 'I’m afraid of being in a shop with my kids'

WE went shoe shopping for the kids at the weekend. To be honest, I couldn’t see anything wrong with the old shoes. Part of me reckoned it was a rainy Saturday afternoon and my wife just fancied doing a bit of shopping. Obviously this is not something I could say out loud, because I’d end up living in a bedsit with visitation rights every second weekend.

My son got a new coat while we were out. Again, I didn’t see a whole lot wrong with the old one, other than the fact it was getting slightly short on the sleeves.

I know I’m in the wrong here. It could be that I’m in denial that my kids are growing like beanstalks. This is in contrast to my wife, who spots if they get a new freckle — if it wasn’t for her shopping habit, they’d probably end up getting cut out of an old pair of pyjamas by the fire brigade, after an overnight growth spurt.

It’s not that I don’t want them to grow up. My life is basically one long cocktail next to the pool now that my son can dress himself in the morning. I think I’m just afraid of being in a shop with my kids. I’m what you might call one of the McMortifieds — I live in constant fear of looking stupid in public.

It doesn’t help that my kids go into overdrive the minute they step inside the door of a shop. I suspect we’re on a watch list in Aldi. I also suspect that people are judging me for getting my kids goofed up on sugary drinks before we leave the house.

We don’t. They’re just giddy. This could be inherited as well in fairness — back in the old days, I was known as Giddy Fitz. Anyway, the result is the minute we step into a shop, I’m counting down the seconds until we have to leave.

My wife, however, seems determined to stay there until we get it right. That’s not a healthy dynamic. Particularly when she asks my opinion on something, and I say I like it and she thinks I’m just saying that so we can leave, and she might be right.

My kids don’t want to leave. If it was left to them, they’d stay hiding from us in the coat aisle all day, looking forward to the meltdown at closing time when we say no to the affordable plastic toy the retailers put by the checkout to make parents feel terrible about themselves.

There is always one of them lost as well. It starts out with ‘where is so and so?’ and escalates into a BBC drama starring James Nesbitt where a child disappears into thin air.

Online shopping is not the solution here. You can’t buy shoes for a child without trying them on and, anyway, my seven-year-old is an eco-warrior now and she’d give us both barrels for any delivery vans coming up to the door.

So, here’s a tip for any retailers out there looking to corner the shopping for kids market. Target the dads. We’re going to be brought along whether we like it or not.

Not all of us like soccer or rugby, but a TV with a couple of couches around it, and a few top newspapers like the Irish Examiner on a table would give something for everyone.

This would need to be as close as possible to the kids area of your shop, because we will be called on every now and again to give our opinion on a pinafore and see if they have it in a size 8. Oh, and one final request, if you could lend us tracking devices for the kids while we’re in your shop, that would be great.

We can be a bit delicate at the weekend.

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