Shopping with Juniper

I am grocery shopping with my daughter on the weekend. She’s sitting inside the big trolley. She’s probably getting a little too big for this, but I let her anyway.

She’s enjoying using the portable scanner to scan the barcodes. It makes a satisfying ‘beep’ with every item. We choose our food for the week and she reports a running total of the bill as we go along the aisles. Soon she wants out of the trolley to weigh the kabocha squash we will turn into pumpkin muffins later this week. She loves the touch screen scales that print little stickers with the weight and price. She puts the sticker on the squash and scans it. Beep. I ask her what fruit she wants in her lunches this week. Oranges? Grapes? Apples? Apples. Beep. We get a bunch of broccoli, a cucumber, a kilo of onions. Beep, beep, beep. She notices pomegranates and picks one that looks promising. I see a punnet of plums and remember I’ve been wanting to make a plum tart. She is in the trolley, out of the trolley, pushing the trolley, riding on the back of the trolley. It’s all good fun. Occasionally we bump into someone. We apologize. It’s a Saturday at the grocery and the aisles are busy. Most people are good-natured and don’t mind, but we do get the occasional grumble or dirty look. We just look at each other and giggle when the grumpy person passes. She climbs back in the trolley

As we come around near the bakery, she notices a table has been set up. The sign says “Have a Christmas treat on us” and kids are decorating gingerbread biscuits shaped like trees. I ask if she wants to decorate one. Yes. I lift her out of the trolley. She sits down and starts to decorate. I can see it’s going to take a long time. Part of me wants to rush along, get the groceries and go home. Part of me wants to leave her to decorate while I go finish the shopping as I can see other kids sans parents at the table. I’m wondering if I’ll run out of time on my parking meter. But something stays these urges towards efficiency, and I stand back and watch her instead. She is trying to squeeze a tube of white icing on to the tree. It’s a bit stiff and she fumbles with it.

I ask if she wants some help. She nods. I squeeze icing on the biscuit, tracing the sides and making thin lines across the front, some straight, some scalloped. The girls who have set up the stand give her a small pot filled with decorations. A pink marshmallow immediately goes on the top of the tree. She puts a row of alternating pink and white candy stars across the tree.

‘It’s a pattern, see?’ she looks up at me.

‘I do. I like it. What about holly leaves?’ I ask.

She nods, and I place a few tiny green sugar leaves along the edges. She digs through the pot with her small fingers, picking out more green leaves. Where we have made the icing go in a scallop shape, she puts silver balls at the peaks and fills in the loops with small red dots. It looks like a garland of cranberry beads. At the very bottom, she sprinkles a dusting of gold stars and grins.


Yes, she nods. The girls give us a pink paper bag to slide the gingerbread tree into and we carefully balance it on the child seat in the trolley so it doesn’t get squashed.

After we finish our shopping and have loaded the groceries into the car, she jumps into her seat and fastens her seatbelt.
‘Can I have my biscuit now?’

‘Yes. But first let me take a picture so we can show Papa and Nick.’

She holds it out and I snap a quick shot.

All the way home, I hear her munching and crunching. When she finishes, she crumples up the pink paper bag and says ‘Yummy!’
I agree.

Melissa Fu | Haslingfield, UK

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