So, this week, I decided that Henry was rapidly growing out of his sleeping bags, and that I should buy him some more. Traditionally I buy them from Sainsbury’s, where they are about half the price of the ones in Mothercare, John Lewis, etc, and where I recently bought some for someone else at half price – £6 each, which is a real bargain.
So I bundled the children into the car, drove them to Sainsbury’s and had a look.
In Sainsbury’s, they only had sleeping bags in sizes up to age 12 months, which is the size he’s growing out of. I went to the customer service desk, and asked them to confirm whether they sold them any bigger, and they said they didn’t, but the helpful lady suggested Matalan or (and she whispered this) Tesco.
So, I bundled the children back into the car, and we went to Tesco.
In Tesco, the tale was similar. We found them, they weren’t big enough, we asked at the desk, they don’t sell them any bigger. Matalan it is, then.
Children back in car (don’t underestimate how long that takes, by the way), and off to Matalan. In Matalan, they had three colours – blue, pink and white. The blue ones were, for some reason, on the end of an aisle, so we found them first. Again, they had small ones, but nothing big enough. Then, in a moment of blinding logic, I though that if they had blue ones they must, logically, to conform to the cultural norms of the age, have pink ones somewhere, and when I found them, there were, indeed, two 12-18 months size sleeping bags, in pink.
Now, if you asked me, I would say that the blue/pink gender business is nothing more than a social convention, that there is no real reason why Henry can’t sleep in a pink sleeping back, no-one will see it anyway, and he’ll never know the significance.
But I didn’t want to. I told myself that I should consult Kevin, because dads can be very funny about these things, especially regarding boys, but it was an excuse – I didn’t want to dress him in pink. I just didn’t want to.
No matter. I went to the customer services desk, and asked him to find blue ones in the right size – if there were pink ones, I was at least reasonsably confident that such things would exist.
The young man on the desk consulted with someone from the shop floor, who went to look in the store room, to no avail. Then, he, very obligingly, rang the Hunts Cross store, to see if they had one. Result! They put one in the cupboard with my name on it, and I agreed to go and pick it up withing 24 hours.
Now, you have to understand, that by this time, I had dragged my children around three superstores since lunch time, and the afternoon was passing. Daisy chose this moment to become suddenly so hungry that she didn’t know what to do with herself (that’s been happening a lot – I think she’s growing), and Henry was due some milk, so I did some quick thinking. Matalan is on a small retail estate, alongside that high quality discount grocery store, Netto, so we trundled across a large car park, and went shopping for flapjacks and pink milk (the choices weren’t fabulous, but I figured oats are slow-release carbs, and milk is protein, and if she is growing, then that was a pretty good combination).
Then we took our purchases back to the car, where I fed Henry, and Daisy gorged herself on flapjacks, and pink milk.
I was in two minds about driving all the way to Hunts Cross, but since we had now steeled ourselves a little, I decided to get it over with.
I got all the children out of the car (there seemed to be more of them by now), and took them to Matalan at Hunts Cross, and went to the customer service desk to enquire about my sleeping bags.
What the woman brought out of the cupboard was a snow suit. Useful for keeping the snow out, but not for going to bed in.
She apologised for the incompetence of some unnamed member of her staff, and obligingly, went to look for the sleeping bags for me. Of course, they had none in the right size.
We spent the whole afternoon shopping for sleeping bags, and by ten past five, we had none.
Then Daisy cried, because Henry would be cold without one. I tried to explain that for one more night, we would just continue to squeeze him into the old one, but she wasn’t having it.
The next day, we went back to the first branch of Matalan, and bought a hitherto-unsuspected white one, and a pink one, and Henry spent last night looking ridiculous in pink. Oddly enough, he doesn’t look like a girl, in pink. He just looks ridiculous.
It’s OK, though. I’m going to dye it. It’s too distressing not to. But it was genuinely news to me to discover that I cared about such things.