Friday, December 26, 2008

Shopping centre crawl

We were in Darwin doing a big food shop. While DH was paying and loading the trolley I took the girls into the open section in front of the shop and got Midget out of the pram so she could stretch and Widget could run around. There weren't too many people around, so we didn't bother putting her back in and let her crawl through the shopping centre to the car park.

Widget crawled ahead of her to be chased, but of course went really fast and so kept coming back and forth. DH and I went slowly behind and next to her so no-one could trip over her. It was probably around 60m and she had a ball. Everyone else thought it was gorgeous, especially when she started talking too and you could hear "aaaah-aaaah-aaaah-aaaah" echoing through the shops. Most people smiled and slowed down to watch, except for the one woman who harumphed and muttered "Where are the parents?" Um, we're the ones behind her with an empty pram.

Why is it such a novelty to see babies crawling around in public? Obviously it would be too dangerous in a supermarket itself with all the trolleys around. And I wouldn't do it somewhere crowded. But there are many other places that babies can get out of the pram or down from the sling and explore, such as pedestrian malls and quiet shopping centres. We have a fairly child-unfriendly society, but at least part of that is because of parents - there are many things we could do to make babies and toddlers more visible and normal. Planners won't take them into account if they don't remember they're there. (Although they're pretty good in Darwin, with a playground and big fountain in the middle of the main mall and heaps of parks everywhere.)

A lot of it has to do with attitude and planning. It took Midget a good 7 minutes to crawl the 60m, because there was so much stopping and changing direction. If we'd been in a hurry it would never have happened. If the goal had been to get the shopping done and get home to cook dinner there would never have been the time, but we were just on a family outing that happened to involve shopping. There are so many things that can be like that - maybe living somewhere where there's not much to do changes your perceptions, but our grocery shop has been a fun outing for many years and we've just continued that with the girls. When we're in the city Bunnings is a particular favourite because of all the lovely wide aisles and it usually isn't crowded.

Having children and doing the household chores don't have to be separate jobs, they are all just part of life.

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