#180 Looking

I struggle to the shops. I’m shattered. Unshaven. My hair needs cutting. My lips are painfully chapped by the cold winter wind. I have to “borrow” some of my wife’s coconut lip balm just to be able to leave the house. I’m tough, but I’m not made of steel.

My daughter is wailing and writhing in the supermarket trolley as if she’s being attacked by ants. My son is lying down because his “legs are too tired”, then hanging onto my foot, cleaning the floor as we go like a human mop.

“All right!” I want to shout at everyone. “I know. I’m not very good at this. Stop staring at me! I’m doing my best!”

I pick up my son. He weighs about eight tons. As my daughter flails in the trolley seat she manages to, probably accidentally, kick me in the gentleman area. People are openly staring at me now as I grimace in pain. “Stop staring!” I plead in my head. I have to put my son down again and he decides to run off. I use my deepest, most terrifying authority voice. It has no effect. People turn and stare. I have to make chase, shouting at my son.

It feels as though everyone is watching now, like I’m on some sort of cruel game show. I retreat to the checkout with only half a list completed. A checkout attendant asks me if I’m OK. I say yes. He stares at me, confused, as if he can’t believe what a terrible parent I am.

Finally, I make it outside and battle my kids into the car. Cruel passers by gawp openly. What is wrong with everyone, for god’s sake!? I’m just a normal Dad trying to get the shopping done. Finally back in the safety of the car, my children strapped down, I adjust the rear view mirror and glimpse myself. Turns out my wife’s coconut lip balm is not, as I assumed, transparent. Not at all. More like the London look, in fact.

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