WHEN my two kids were little I couldn't stand taking them to the supermarket.
Well, to be honest, I couldn't stand taking them to most retail places. It was always a performance and almost every outing was fraught with danger or embarrassment.
If I wasn't dealing with projectile-vomiting from car-sick episodes on the way to the shops I was slamming on the brakes screeching the station wagon to an emergency halt so someone could take an unscheduled wee while trucks thundered past their bare bottom.
I also vividly remember one holiday spending 40 agonising minutes of my life trying to convince a store detective I had no idea why my son's stroller had made the security system light up like a Christmas tree when I pushed it through the checkout while, during the entire exchange, my son (aka "the suspect") sat there like innocence on a stick.
But getting back to the supermarket thing, for years the main reason I couldn't take either of them inside was the constant whingeing. Mine as much as theirs. It was just plain hard work.
Even if I went in for a quick smash-and-grab grocery shop I'd have to play deal-or-no-deal in the breakfast cereal aisle (agree to a box of Co-Co Pops for the weekends on the condition they eat Weetbix on weekdays).
So now that my little darlings are finally old enough to be of some use, that is able to carry the shopping to the car, I brought them along for the weekly trip to the supermarket.
We got off to a good start when my eldest offered to push the trolley - naturally on the proviso that if he saw anyone he knew he could just dump it (and me and his sister).
We made it unscathed through the chippie aisle, all agreeing on the same flavour, the frozen food section presented few issues with the diplomatic "party pack" of pies, pasties and sausage rolls voted a winner and even the lolly aisle, which in years gone by was nearly my undoing, ended up being totally incident-free.
But the wheels came off my trolley when we rounded the health and beauty products aisle.
My eldest spotted a $9.50 can of designer deodorant he just "had to have". Yeah right, like I'm going to spend $9.50 on his pits? I tossed him a bar of Palmolive, a can of no-frills spray and words along the lines of "get over yourself".
Tempted as he was to answer back, a girl from his school came into the aisle at that exact moment which was his prearranged cue to exit stage right and pretend I was a total stranger.
That left me standing there with my youngest. She was holding up a tube of hair-removal cream and talking way too loudly about her "unsightly bikini line". What the?
Oh, she had to be kidding me. This is the same child who waited for 13-and-a-half anxious years for even a whisper of hair to appear "down below" and when something finally appeared practically alerted the media. Now she wanted to get rid of it? All six of them?
This was not a conversation I wanted to be having with my baby in the middle of Woolies.
Suddenly I was yearning for the projectile-vomiting and mistaken shoplifting incidents of days gone by - where the only hair removal was my own, as I tore it out in the car on the way home.
Family Taming is a weekly humour column.
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