Parking under the giant red letters, I plopped Dumpie into the back of a giant cart, where he wiggled himself comfortably into position, little legs stretched out and a look of gleeful anticipation (to match his mother's) etched on his little round face. (He refuses to sit up front where other, normal children sit, and insists I plop him in the back where all the groceries go.) We started off in the shoe department, where it's a tradition of mine to buy comedy footwear for the monsters each year. For whatever reason Britain just doesn't do comedy footwear and it's such a shame, for in my opinion one of the benefits of procreation (besides spawning future old age care providers) is having real live dolls to dress up according to your whim.
Last time we were here I bought Dumpie 'plether' sandals (that wonderfully bizarre plastic/leather combination guaranteed not to stretch but also not to allow perspiration in or out). He's used them millions of times to go outside on our terrace and also traipse through the streets and beaches of Goa, his little chubby toes poked rather comically out the front of the awkward looking miniature sandal, while his little heel is kept in place by a piece of - you guessed it - 'plether' elastic at the back. They make me smile whenever he wears them, so of course I went to get another pair as he has almost grown out of them.
No luck - they didn't have his size. But they DID have a pair of hilarious multi-coloured 'water shoes' which slip-on and make him look like he just stepped out of a 'Postman Pat' video. At $6.97 it was a no-brainer and they were tossed unceremoniously into the back of the cart, where Dumpie proceeded to rid himself of his current footwear, put the new ones on, and get really pissed off when he realised that his two legs were attached by a plastic cord.
One of my favorite treats when I'm here in Florida, is to start the day with some mini powdered donuts and a strong cup of coffee (my Dad's signature blend is to die for and even he doesn't ever recall exactly what he put in it but trust me when I say it's divine). Given that it's a once a year kind of thing I don't feel the least bit guilty keeping a steady supply of the moist and addictive sugared donuts on hand for whenever the urge strikes. The problem is that the monsters ADORE them. And I do mean adore. I have actually witnessed Dumps leaping onto Eggie's back and clawing at his arm to wrangle the last one from him - powdered crumbs spraying through the air like confetti.
Up and down the aisles we whizzed, Dumps and I...his little blond wisps of hair fluttering as he barked instructions as to where we should go. (Of course Dumpie doesn't stay seated for long - not when he can stand perched precariously barking orders and gesturing wildly like a captain.)
"There Mama there!" We'd careen down one aisle at top speed only to stop suddenly when Dumps spotted the powdered donuts and demanded I buy two packages. Who was I to disagree? "Nay Mama Nay!" he screamed excitedly minutes later (for those of you new to this blog, "Nay-Nay" in his made up language means candies). Dumps insisted we go down the seemingly endless aisle of chocolates and sweeties... stopping briefly only to deposit a packet of mini Reeces peanut butter cups into the increasingly crowded cart.
Some while later, whilst deliberating over some rather cute Wranglers 'loose fit' carpenter jeans (I should stress that was for Dumpie not myself), I looked down in horror to see that he had gone silent because his mouth was crammed full of powdered donuts which he had clearly decided to help himself to. Not only was his face covered in white powdered sugar, but so were his navy shorts, his grubby hands and even his hair. He giggled as we played tug of war with the remaining donuts, me frantically trying to tip them back into the plastic casing and he trying to stuff them into his mouth. It was a huge mess and there was little I could do but look around in horror to see if we were being observed as I tried to find a quiet spot to pull over and deal with the disaster (sigh).
Anyway we finally made it to the checkout and I was a little less traumatised by that point - mainly because I was staring transfixed in wonder at the pint of Starbucks 'Caramel Macchiato' ice-cream I stood holding...too curious not to 'buy it and try it' as the drink is a favourite of mine and it certainly fell into the 'totally unnecessary but must have it' category.
So $87.53 later I found myself wheeling out a cart of goodies, a mini powdered person and some melting ice-cream. It could have been much worse though as luckily, when I was dealing with the donut fiasco, the reality of my luggage restrictions led me to put more than half of my goods back on the shelf...for some other unsuspecting tourist to gaze at in wonder and delight and pluck up with gusto...