I sigh. it is no good, I am going to have to face the fact that E and I need to go to Tescos. This is something I try very hard to avoid, given the myriad of things that can provoke sulks, tantrums or tears, and not always belonging to E. I can’t bear the stress of it. But today, it has to be done.
“I want to go on Bob the Builder!” E wails as we pass the ride outside the door. Thanks, Tesco.
“It’s not plugged in,” I lie. If I had a pound for every time he has asked and I have told him this, I would not get quite so pissed off, as I would have plenty of bloody money to waste on thirty seconds of my son bobbing around in a bright yellow tractor. I hate these sodding rides with a passion. For months he didn’t realise what they were and I wasn’t going to disabuse him of his ignorance. But then he did know, by some strange toddler osmosis or something. Probably some furtive meetings him and his friends have every week at nursery behind the play shed.
“Right, you know what lads? I have only flipping well found out that eating loads of vegetables won’t make your chest hairy or your hair curly.”
“What? You’re kidding!”
” I know, I know.”
“Well, get this, right. Too much playing with your willy won’t make it fall off.”
“Really? Now that’s a result.”
“Yeah, and guess what? That big yellow tractor shaped thing outside of Tescos? If you put a coin in it, it will go up and down and play Bob the Builder and everything!”
“Crikey, that sounds amazing!”
“Can you play with your willy whilst you are on it?”
E climbs into the Bob the Builder ride regardless of my protestations that it is not working, so I start to try and cajole him off. I sense a standoff approaching, but manage somehow to coax him to dismount. I am a teeny bit pissed off that I have to ‘coax’ my toddler rather than just exert my will but whilst the former can leave a large dent in my parental pride, the latter will inevitably lead to a very public battle which I can really do without.
Apparently, these rides are officially known as Kiddie Rides. Hmmm. Are You Fucking Kidding Rides would be more appropriate given that they cost fifty pence a go. I dread to think how much money we have poured into those grubby little slots.
I think the only time that these rides would be a good idea is if they were staffed. Then I could drop him off at the entrance of the shop, gleefully hand over a stack of fifty pence pieces to the tractor attendant and get my shopping done in peace. Even better, get the attendant to dress as Bob, then E wouldn’t give two hoots if the tractor was moving or not, he would just be gawping at a living, breathing Bob the Builder right in front of him. But as it is, unmanned and ludicrously expensive, it just makes the whole shopping thing more painful and drawn out.
Not only do we have a negotiation on the way in about whether or not he can ride the shiny yellow tractor, we have the same sodding conversation on the way out too. Giving him a ride on arrival is a shit idea: you have to then deal with the ‘not getting off’ scenario within a minute and both parties end up pissed off before you’ve even got to the fruit and veg. But it seems using the promise of a ride after the shopping providing there is good behaviour at all times is often of no use either; there is simply too much of a time lag between promise of treat and actual gratification. E might walk sedately into the shop, mindful of his impending ride, but one look at the grapes and he’s off, plucking them and popping them into his mouth with willful abandon then running off.
Hey, Mr Tesco, I tell you the every little bit that really would bloody help: put the bloody rides at the back of the car park, or in the bin, or just not right next to the door, okay? And whilst you are making some changes, please employ someone to let down the tyres of any moron who parks in the mother and toddler spaces who doesn’t have a kid with them. Even better, hunt them down and demand fifty pence from them to pay for a Bob the Builder ride for the poor kid who has just had to be dragged out the car via the back window as the only space left to park in was about three foot nothing wide.
Kiddie Rides. It is parental exploitation dressed as a round-headed, yellow-hatted dickhead builder (or any other children’s TV character whose head is usually far too large for its body and who sports less than a full complement of fingers). I did once make the fundamental error of promising a ride once the shopping was complete, only to find my purse bereft of all change. I fear I shall be paying dearly for this mistake in years to come, when the massive trauma that E suffered as a result of this oversight resurfaces and we are forced to pay for therapy, with the therapist dressed as Bob the Builder whilst the patient’s couch bobs up and down comfortingly.