I was in the supermarket a while back and I had taken my 10 year old son along with me. For me it was a chance to spend some time with him after being tied to the office for the previous 5 days and having seen very little of either him or his brother. For him, whilst I am sure he was glad to spend some time with me as well, I am not so delusional that I can pretend that it was not my promise to buy him a chocolate muffin that persuaded him to come along.
After a while I had collected all of the items I needed and had dutifully purchased the muffin as the last but most important item, when I noticed that he was looking quite unhappy. There was not too much to it, just a look on his face and a slumped body posture that experience tells me I have a 10 year old with an issue. When I stopped, looked down at him and quietly asked him what the problem was, his face suddenly crumpled and I could see he was really upset. It was all very quietly done. There were no loud cries or tantrums, we did not get any undue attention from any other customers, but here was my child stood in the middle of the supermarket and in a very undemonstrative and dignified manner, he was very unhappy..
I asked him a number of times what the problem but he wouldn’t reply though he was obviously upset until after we had paid for the groceries and for a good while later in the car as we here heading home. Of course, the whole time I was wondering whether I had done something wrong, whether someone in the supermarket had done something to upset him or whether something else had happened entirely. Again asking him what the problem was, he would not give me any answers beyond “it’s nothing Dad…OK?”
It was only later in the day that I got an explanation. Confiding to his Mum, he described his feelings as we walked though the refrigerated section of the supermarket.
My son, although only 10 years old, has been a vegetarian by his own moral choice for some time. In hindsight of course, given his beliefs, it is quite reasonable that the meat, poultry and fish conspicuously on display would make him feel uncomfortable. In a misguided attempt to not to make a fuss in front of his Dad he had not said anything to me as I in my ignorance wandered leisurely through all of the aisles and he reluctantly tagged along. At some point however, it had all become too much for him.
Obviously, I have learned a lesson here and will not take either of my children with me through this particular section of the supermarket again. Having said that, whilst I guess this may be a part of the supermarket you would deliberately avoid if you are vegetarian, I am sure that it is not always possible to avoid this type of situation when you are doing your weekly shopping. This must be something that other parents of vegetarians have had to learn to deal with, so I’d be keen to hear about how you have dealt with it and what your thoughts are.