I was at the supermarket yesterday with my four year old, his younger brother and their Dad. I mean, we were shopping for whiteboard markers – such is the life of pomp and splendour we lead – but yesterday was interesting. Yesterday I got to witness first-hand some stellar behaviour-modification techniques you won’t read about in any of those silly parenting manuals, with their research-based recommendations and their tertiary-educated qualifications and their stubborn insistence on doing things in the best interests of the developing child and whatnot.
I mean, who needs all that when you can march right down to the local supermarket and see how it’s really done, down in the trenches with the real people. Real people like, errrrr, my husband.
So anyway, we had to walk past a vintage charity collection box at the front of the store as we entered. It was one of those statuesque ones in the shape of a little blind boy, head slightly bowed in deference as he sits alone with a collection box clutched forlornly in his lap.
It kind of looked like this one (without the day-glo sweater); a little bit poignant, a little bit sweet, a little bit creepy.
As we passed by I could hear Mr 4 muttering something under his breath about “shrunken boys”, and I wondered what he was saying.
I don’t even know what prompted me to ask him for clarification to be honest, because the kid is generally spouting off with an endless stream of weird non-sequiturs all day, but there was something dark and intriguing about the expression on his face as I watched him cast an ominous glance at the collection box, muttering to himself.
Zilla: What did you say honey? Something shrunk? What shrunk?
Mr 4: (points) That boy is shrunk-ed.
Zilla: What do you mean, “shrunk-ed”?
Mr 4: That little boy over there was naughty, and he got shrunk-ed.
Zilla: (incredulous) What?!? Who told you that?
Mr 4: Daddy.
Zilla: DADDY did!?!
Mr 4: Yes. Daddy said that little boy was being naughty in the supermarket, so he got shrunk-ed. I don’t want to get shrunk-ed. I’m a good boy at the supermarket.
Sooooo, if I’m hearing that right, my husband tells our kids that the charity collection box for the Royal Institute of Deaf and Blind Children is actually a naughty little boy who has been shrunk and left in the main foyer of the building as a warning to all the other small children who dare to misbehave at the supermarket, in much the same way that Mexican drug cartels leave the bodies of their dead victims lying around in public to “send a message” to anyone else who may care to defy them.