There are few things more likely to make me feel my age than being in the company of my small grandsons. Whether it’s running races up and down the garden, heading a football for them to catch, playing the part of a dinosaur (excellent bit of typecasting) in a complicated game devised by Joe, aged four, or shopping for their meals, I feel positively prehistoric.
The physical antics are just about doable – as long as two-year-old Zach doesn’t choose to clamber on my shoulders more than half-a-dozen times – but it’s the shopping that is my absolute nemesis.
I achieved a list-full before the boys and their parents arrived to spend a week’s holiday with us. My daughter’s helpful suggestions formed the list and to say it was an eye-opener would be an understatement. Once again, I am faced with evidence of how much the world has changed.
It must be an enormously lucrative market catering for all these anxious mums seeking the miniaturised, organic version of what they themselves were brought up on, and agonising over the salt content of cereals, breadsticks and hummus, that staple of so many of the soon-to-be brains of Britain.
Shopping list in hand, I nearly drove myself potty (pun not intended, but probably used subliminally under the circumstances) as I garnered a modest half-tonne of fruit and fresh vegetables from the greengrocer’s shop. Will non-organic sweet potatoes do, I wonder, and what about the celery, which was probably grown within five miles of a motorway? Those tomatoes, they won’t be au naturel, that’s for sure.
Then came the carrots. The only option was non-organic ones, so what should I do? Take a chance on the ordinary ones or leave without any and see the boys’ tearful little faces turn on me with the words “failed again” lingering on their lips.
I bought the non-organic carrots and lopped a big chunk off the top of each. It’s probably an old granny’s tale that the pesticide gathers in the first couple of inches of a carrot, but I am easily scared.
I wouldn’t want to give the impression I am cynical about organic versus non-organic, so let me make it clear that I am not. Far from it, in fact. It was just that on this occasion, assuming responsibility for stocking cupboards in advance of the arrival of the Little People and their appetites, I was frazzled and daunted as I sought to do the right thing at the same time as hauling it in and piling it high.
Peanut butter? No, that’s quite wrong. It’s cashew butter, stoopid. Later, at home, my purse weeping, I taste a little for the first time in my life. Oh, it’s divine. I could live on that – at least until I either exploded or went bankrupt.
Breakfast cereal is dodgy territory, too. Joe eats grown-ups’ porridge, so that’s OK, but Zach favours Ready brek. I bought a box of it, enough, at a guess, for about 98 breakfasts, only for him to announce importantly on his first morning that he didn’t want that any more but would prefer “podge like mine budder”. So podge he had, just like his brother, and the box of Ready brek remains unopened.
I’m considering whether to disguise it in some way and offer it to Geoff as a tasty alternative to fresh air, which is his favoured breakfast, or press it into service for what I presume must have been its original purpose – grouting. I think the grand-boys would be happy to help me mix the first bucketful.
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