Wednesday, August 22, 2007

today : I go shopping

So there I was in Tesco's - looking for a 2" by 2" paint pad to do the corners of the ceiling if you must know - and suddenly this little kid appeared. He was maybe three and a half - perhaps under three. He was enchanted by the plastic tractors displayed on the end of the row. He picked his favourite and, grasping it in his arms like a goalie, brought it towards me and plonked it down on the smooth tiles of the floor in front of my feet.

"Tracka!" he announced.

That Supernanny crouch that you're supposed to use. Well, I physically can't do that without falling over and creating an embarrassing incident, so I just stooped a little and adopted that over-enthusiastic, over-enunciated voice usually used by TV presenters in bright orange dungarees who are pretending to be blossoming sunflowers or crashing waves.

"That's a fantastic tractor!" I replied.
"Grape Tracker!" the kid agreed, and then beetled off back to the end of the row. He returned with an even larger fire-engine.

"Fire Endie!" he announced, parking it beside the tractor.
"Do you know what noise a fire engine makes?" I asked, adopting the Carol Chell voice again.
"Nee naah!! the boy intoned, whilst spinning on the spot with his arms out.
"Yes!" It made me laugh that he was illustrating a fire engine by impersonating an aeroplane or a sycamore heli-twirler. Like many things that small kids do, it was perfectly logical.

The little boy looked over his shoulder and noticed his Dad. I'd not thought about the child being abandoned or lost. I just assumed he was amusing himself whilst his parents looked at garden furniture or lawn sprinklers or something. The boy's Father had been browsing at the side of a wide aisle not six or seven yards from our fire engine game and was pushing a barrow that contained some light garden tools. The boy picked up the tractor and took it back to the shelf.
"Bye." he said to me.

As he reached the shelf his Father, as if he had just noticed him, headed towards his son.
"Put that down! " he shouted. The boy stopped midway through putting the tractor back on the low shelf and looked around. The father walked up to him and clouted him on the side of the head.
"I said put that down!" he roared, clouting the boy again, this time open handed on his back. The boy almost fell over and then, after the blows had registered, burst into tears, which he tried to keep silent. The father took the boy's arm, gave me a sheepish look and they hurried away.

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