On a rare yet rainy Wednesday off work, I picked TJ up from his half day at nursery with absolutely no idea how to fill the time between 2pm and 7pm.
I don’t normally have this problem – we fill our Thursdays and Fridays together with various classes, playdates, life admin like food shopping and several tantrums. But on this specific day, when TJ normally hangs out with his grandparents, I didn’t know what to do.
So, we went to Pets at Home. It’s not the first time we have used this shop as a free zoo. On the couple of previous occasions when this has happened, I have apologised to the staff for doing so. Happily, they clearly did not mind as they cooed over TJ, who was in crowd-pleasing mode and acting like a performing seal.
I ventured in today expecting to feel more than a little ashamed that I was back again to stare at rabbits yet with no intention of buying even a bag of bird feed for the next trip to the local park.
TJ had a great time eyeballing some rats, saying ‘wow’ as he stared at some fish and wondering why we stood by an empty cage, which should have been housing a gecko.
It was as we made our way back to the car that I realised I wasn’t alone in this mini adventure. I saw two other mums with young sons crowded around the guinea pig enclosure. We exchanged a knowing smile and a few pleasantries about how we were all there for exactly the same purpose. I felt like we should actually swap numbers so we could laugh at this moment over coffee (wine) at some point in the near future.
As a parent, it can be damn hard to fill the minutes, hours and days with engaging activities to develop and stimulate our offspring. In the constant strive to keep little people entertained on limited budgets (and rapidly diminishing stamina); desperate times call for trips to a pet superstore.
But, such situations also highlight one of the beauties of parenthood and that’s how kids love stuff. TJ laughed, bounced and flapped around in excitement as he looked at the animals playing, eating and sleeping. On a different Wednesday, TJ also had the time of his life in B&Q with his grandparents. Children can find tiny joys in the mundane and ordinary around us – I’ll try and maintain such a positive outlook next time I am stuck in the queue at Sainsbury’s.