Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Shopping Moments

When I go on errands with Pippin, certain moments occur. And repeat. Often. So much so that I decided to note them here.

 Start Line. This is a 15-25 minute period in which we get ready. I dress Pippin, check the weather (see below), re-dress Pippin to suit the weather, find my own jacket, collect any articles that need returned, pause to give Pippin a drink or a snack, hunt for any receipts needed, put on Pippin's jacket and his shoes, pause to put a water bottle and a snack in my own bag, find his pacifier in case we run into his naptime.... Ever heard the phrase, "Slower than a herd of turtles stampeding through peanut butter?" That would describe us. 

Weather Report. This is the part where I read online that it's going to storm, and then there proceeds to be gorgeous sunshine as Pippin and I get outside. Or I read that there will be sun and it rains as soon as we step out the door. Sometimes there's even hail. 

Hot Wheels.  This is the part where I hold Pippin in one arm, one-handedly pull our stroller out of the car, and snap it open. I do this with panache and ease, obviously, despite it having dinosaurish dimensions and the weight of a large dog. Pedestrians have been known to stop and watch this procedure. We have a second, cooler stroller but it needs two hands to open and doesn't fit in the car. One more reason to find a house on the ground floor.

The Trek. This is the part where we power-walk for 15-20 minutes to get to the shopping center (if Faramir is with me, he reminds me to slow down instead of rushing.) Along the way I point out ducks, other babies, and motorcycles to Pippin. I'm looking forward to the day when he can tell the difference. We pass beautiful old churches and ugly buildings, parks and tram rails, and an ever-surprising plethora of hair salons.

Your Mother Let You Wear That? This is the part where I get fascinated by some of the clothing choices out there. Yellow and black striped harem pants. The kid with the Nike swoosh buzz-cut into his hair. Horrifically glittery girl shoes. Leopard print jumpsuits. The woman who wore a bikini top and a long skirt to Lidl. Shoes with 4-5 inch studded heels. I try not to judge but even harder not to stare.

It Costs How Much?  I understand that luxury cars and fur coats are expensive, but sometimes I'm amazed at the prices of 'normal' items. Sometimes this is related to the above question, such as when a leather-and-cotton dress in mint green that I would not wear if you gave it to me costs 4o+ euros. Baby jeans should not cost more than my jeans. Sometimes I'm just frustrated by food prices, when a two-liter bottle of cola is 67 cents and 1 liter of rice milk is 2.53. Or when broccoli is 75 cents and cauliflower is 1.92. Then again, they had berry bushes at our supermarket for about 2 euros each, so that's exciting. 

Hello There! This is the part where people who would not otherwise notice me start a conversation with my adorable child. And then they smile at me in appreciation for bringing him into their lives. "Wat een schatje!" is something I hear a lot. Twice I've been told that he has eyes like marbles, which I'm assuming is a compliment. Sometimes little old ladies pat his cheek or hand. My question is: is he going to stay cute enough that people will give him discounts or free ice cream?

Name That Song.  This is the part where a song comes on the store loudspeaker and people start humming or quietly singing to it. Definitely one of the best parts of being out and about. Gamma, a hardware store, has a fantastic music selection and the employees are great whistlers. I don't care how much time Faramir spends looking for manly tools there as long as I can hum along to John Mayer and Coldplay and enjoy the atmosphere.

Name That Nationality. This is the part where I try to guess where a fellow shopper is from while they talk on the phone, to their kids, or to a friend. I'd say that 1/4 to 1/5 of the people in the stores are not native Dutch, which means I spend a lot of my time trying to figure out what country they represent. I'm most successful at spotting Polish, but I can make a fair guess as to whether a scarved woman is Turkish or Arabic and whether a dark skinned man is Somalian or Surinamese. Other times I'm completely stumped, given the high numbers of immigrants from Cape Verde, Serbia, Indonesia, and Bulgaria. I don't have a perfect Dutch accent, though, so maybe they're doing the same to me....

Homeward Bound. This is the part where I decide that I've found enough of the things on my list and head back. Pippin often falls asleep at this point, just in time to wake up as we go in the door and get so excited about being home that he doesn't want to nap again. Sometimes I'm Wonderwoman and manage to close and store the stroller with one hand. Mostly I secure Pippin in his carseat so I don't drop him or get duck poop from the wheels on his jeans while I fold up the stroller.

Hunter Gatherer. This is the part where I proudly show all the things I found to Faramir, who looks appropriately appreciative of the time and energy I spend to clothe and equip our family. Occasionally he looks less appreciative, which means I should either finish quickly or move onto the next stage.

See How Much I Saved! This is the part where I point out how much I saved by using coupons, scouting several stores, etc. (Apparently my grandmother, a renowned bargain shopper, used to use this on my grandfather). If Faramir isn't sure why I needed to buy something (a new vegetable peeler, high tops, new shirts for him, pajamas for Pippin) we negotiate.

And if I need to take it back, the whole cycle starts over again. I can't say I mind....


  1. Hi there,

    Apologies for writing here but I hope you will respond to my message.
    I am a Lecturer/PhD candidate at University of Amsterdam and Erasmus University and I would like to interview you for my research project on female expat bloggers in the Netherlands. My research investigates how female expats create a sense of belonging in their lived spaces and the role that digital media (especially blogs) plays in this process. My research aims at providing a better understanding of the migration experience of female expats and the construction of migrant identities.

    I can send you a more detailed message from my university email account if you send me your email address.

    I hope you will read my message and will be interested in my research.

    Looking forward to hearing from you.
    Best wishes,
    Rhythma Kapoor

  2. Hello,
    It sounds like an interesting project; I'd be happy to talk more. My email is seiryl at hotmail.com