She had two boys and they were running wild. Behind the counter, the forced smile of the checkout chick faltered.
Harry yelled and pulled at his little brother’s sleeve. “Give it back, it’s mine, it’s mine!”
Liam’s tenacious grip did not lesson, but he could not withstand Harry’s persistent force forever. With one final yank, the contentious toy landed in his arms.
Promptly, Liam started to cry.
Meanwhile, their mother Sally fumbled with her purse, growing red with embarrassment as other shoppers tutted under their breath. She finally managed to extract her credit card. But Liam was bawling by her feet. She ran through her options in her mind. Should she soothe him now and risk incurring the wrath of her fellow shoppers, or should she pay now as quickly as she could and soothe him outside of the reach of those cool glares? She chose a bit of both, pulling Liam off the ground and hugging him to her left hip as her right hand fluttered over the numbers of the card machine. Her mind was blank with panic and she couldn’t remember her pin.
“Ma’am?” the smile of the checkout girl was kind and concerned. Sally felt like crying along with her younger son, but she managed a weak smile instead.
“No worries,” she said lightly, and fortunately, in that instant she recalled her pin. There, transaction completed.
“Finally,” an old man grunted, two or three steps behind her in the line.
In a complicated and probably unrepeatable manoeuvre, Sally managed to place her credit card back into her handbag, grab the groceries and the hand of the irascible Harry all while holding the still bawling Liam on her left hip. And under the fire of judgemental glares from her fellow shoppers. She wondered if any of them had been mothers, and if so, how on earth they had managed to avoid the drama and trauma of grocery shopping with children.
Liam was beginning to quiet. Though tired, she kissed his forehead and lowered him back to the ground. She turned to Harry, about to chastise him, but she was simply too exhausted. No, she would ‘have a talk’ with him later, she decided. Hopefully he would not forget the entire incident before that time. Groceries and children in hand, she headed towards the car park.