“Let’s go shopping,” says Grandma. “I can pretend there are things I really need while actually trying to buy unnecessary toys for my granddaughter.”
“OK,” says Mummy, who is on maternity leave and says yes to anything that isn’t ironing or singing nursery rhymes in local dribble-groups.
Mummy and Grandma drive an excessive distance to get to the cheap Swedish shop that Grandma loves, where you can buy absolutely everything that ever existed and eat too many meatballs with jam. Mummy once tried to go to this shop with Daddy to buy furniture for big brother’s bedroom, but it did not end well. Halfway round, Daddy broke out in a cold sweat, started shouting that the staff were moving the arrows as he’d been past the same bookcase at least four times, and began to panic that the world outside had ended and he had no idea because he hadn’t seen daylight since he came in. Daddy had to leave quickly and hasn’t been back since, and Mummy is glad to come without him.
“Look darling,” says Grandma, “what about a little abacus with beads you can push and count?”
Rebel Baby looks nonplussed and chews on her sleeve.
“Look sweetheart,” cries Mummy, “little beakers you can stack and knock down… doesn’t that sound like fun?”
Rebel Baby looks the other way and yawns.
“Look poppet!” exclaims Grandma, “little teacups, so you can come to Grandma’s house and play tea parties!”
Rebel Baby is very interested in her own toes.
“It is no good,” sighs Mummy, “there is nothing here that is good for The Baby to play with. Maybe she has everything she needs.” She pushes The Baby off in the trolley away from the toys, while Grandma mutters something about “might need it anyway…” and starts filling up her basket with brightly coloured plastic.
Mummy and The Baby leave the toy section and wander further afield. Suddenly, The Baby sees exactly what she wants. Mummy is looking the other way but that doesn’t matter, for RB is independent and headstrong – she will get it herself. It is shiny and sparkly and right at the bottom of a tall, tall tower of lots of other drinking glasses, just like it. She just loves to feel them, they feel lovely to her. Rebel Baby has her heart set on that very exact one…
Mummy realises just in time and swerves the trolley away, narrowly avoiding an expensive disaster. Unfortunately, however, the next half a mile of shop is lined with just such towers… a gauntlet of glass, china and all things breakable, tantalisingly stacked metres tall in narrow aisles Mummy must squeeze the trolley through whilst RB swipes excitedly at Every. Single. One. It is a miracle Mummy survives with her nerves intact. She surely deserves a medal.
Grandma, meanwhile, was last seen in the storage section getting inexplicably excited about boxes and fabric. She just loves to feel them, she says, they feel lovely to her. Maybe it’s in the genes…