Ms Gibbons didn’t come until the following evening.
Julian had to look after Bonnie, Mitchell, Eleanor and Fergus, which, to his surprise, he found easy. They all watched another episode of Tikkabilla while Julian fed Fergus another bottle of milk, then another bottle, and then another bottle. It seemed Fergus wouldn’t fill up.
A few hours before noon and Julian realised that Fergus had used up all the diapers he had kept from when Eleanor was smaller.
“Come on, kids. We are going to the shops!” Julian announced as Tikkabilla finished; Julian could tell the theme song would be stuck in his head for a while. He had packed Fergus and the things he might need on the short journey, such as the buggy and he had sorted out Fergus’ chair in the car.
Bonnie jumped up immediately.
“Can we buy stuff?” She asked Julian excitedly.
“Sure. That is what shops are for.” He grinned.
Mitchell folded his arms and stayed sitting on the couch.
“Come on, Mitch.” Julian sighed. Mitchell shook his head stubbornly.
“Mitchy. Come now.” Bonnie ordered him. He obeyed her, making it obvious he didn’t want to go.
“Why can’t you leave me alone at home?” He protested as he stood beside the car.
“Mitch. You know I can’t do that.” Julian looked at him for a moment then strapped Fergus into the old baby seat which had been in the boot of his dark grey Chrysler.
They all got in the seven-seater quite easily. Bonnie and Mitchell sat in the back while Fergus and Eleanor sat in the middle row. Eleanor sat behind Julian and occasionally leaned forward on her booster seat to ask the age old question: “are we there yet?” Everytime, Julian would reply no and that she could easily see where they were.
“Ok. We’ve got to get this quickly; Ms Gibbons could come at any moment.” Said Julian, ushering the small children inside Sainsbury’s as he put Fergus in the buggy.
“I’ll get the trolley!” Mitchell, suddenly happy, ran to the long line of conjoined trolleys. He held out a hand to Julian for money to put in.
Julian gave him a coin and Mitchell inserted it excitedly then pulled the trolley with as much force as a boy of his age could. He beamed as he raced into the store with Eleanor at his heels. Julian noticed that Mitchell had specifically chosen the trolley with the wonky wheel, which was also rusting around the edges. Julian shook his head and pushed Fergus inside after the two children who had just ran in.
“Bon, can you get Mitch and Ellie back here, please?” Julian called to Bonnie. She gave him quick thumbs up and ran after them. She returned with them a few moments later.
“Thanks, Bon.” Julian thanked Bonnie. She nodded at him.
“Remember what we talked about when we are in a shop? How you behave when you’re in a shop? Remember? No running, no shouting and no stealing.” He glanced at Mitchell at the word stealing.
“I remember.” Eleanor said proudly.
“Ok then. You can each chose one thing. It can be anything. Stay together and stay near me. I don’t want you out of my sight. Come on.” Julian stood up again from leaning down near their level.
“I’m going to stay with you, Julian.” Eleanor held the cold metal of the buggy and walked slowly with Julian.
“Ok, Ellie.” He smiled at her and she grinned back.
They meandered through the aisles. Julian kept a keen eye on Mitchell who was weaving in and out of the different aisles, dodging people as they pushed their trolleys almost into him as he scooted around a corner.
“Mitch! Remember what I said!” Julian called to him, almost knocking over an old lady who was doing her weekly shop.
“I’m so sorry, madam.” Julian apologized quickly to the elderly lady and rushed past, trying to catch Mitchell.
Finally, Mitchell stopped running... when he got to the sweet aisle of the shop.
A whole long aisle was dedicated to all the sweets you could imagine. Mitchell looked at it in awe and started to grab packets and packets of sugary things.
“One thing.” Julian puffed as he caught his breath. He was surprised that Fergus hadn’t woken up yet; he had fallen asleep in the car. Julian had learnt how deep a sleeper he was after that.
“Why not two?” Mitchell whined.
“One.” Julian confirmed. Mitchell looked as grumpy as ever but he picked up a huge packet of Haribos and seemed content with them as he placed them in his trolley. Mitchell always had the trolley when they went shopping. He liked to whizz around on it. No matter how many times Julian told him not to, Mitchell would run about with it. This usually resulted in Julian getting rather fed up and deciding to leave without getting even half the things on his shopping list. But it was alright this time as he only had one thing on his list.
“Come on, after you’ve got your sweeties. Lets go to the baby aisle.” Julian beckoned them to follow him. Mitchell was still standing by the sweets as he walked off. Julian sent Bonnie to fetch Mitchell, and then he came easy.
They left the store with three packets of sweets and three packets of diapers. Julian knew he wouldn’t need them, but he was still hopeful that Ms Gibbons would let him stay. And even if she took him back, he could either give them to her, he knew she didn’t have them, or keep them for future if this sort of thing ever happened again.