On Monday nights we go shopping.

About once a month we need to stock up on bulk items.
There are evolutionary hangovers from when this was a vegan house
I was never a vegan but if you live with a vegan it is so much easier to keep a vegan house and indulge yourself away from it.
One of these hangovers is the heavy reliance on rice milk as a dairy alternative.
The rice milk is bought in 12 packs and lasts ages but in our smaller supermarket is more expensive.
We stock up on rice milk, fruit juices and cat food in the larger more impersonal supermarket down the road. These shopping trips can be the most expensive of the month so I try to keep them around pay day.
Sometimes this works.

Regardless of which super market we shop in we always go to the smaller of the two for tea on a Monday night.
The Proles always have macaroni cheese with garlic bread, fruit and apple juice.
They have eaten this meal regularly for the last four years.
Macaroni cheese with garlic bread, fruit and apple juice.
Every Monday.
Every Monday we walk up to the counter and I ask what they want.

Proles: Macaroni cheese!

Four years.

I have all sorts of things but they have remained steady.

Tonight Prole1 had toasted cheese sandwiches and chips with a side salad and some fruit.
This was a big night for us.
He is going through a growth spurt at the moment and eats everything he can. As an over fussy vegetarian this is precious little in the supermarket cafe but what he found he ate.

I looked at how big and stringy they both look.

Prole2 used to sit in a high chair, drumming his hands on the tray, shouting ‘Hot, Dad, hot’ and pointing at his dinner.
The high chairs were on wheels and I once went back to the counter to get some cutlery and found the space I had left Prole2 empty.
Prole1 was grinning all over and looking like a guilty dumpling.

Me: Where did he go?

Prole1: I hid him.

Prole2 was round the corner, still in his chair, facing the wall and laughing and laughing and laughing.

After dinner I give them a pound coin for the trolley and watch them as they wrestle it in through the door.
In the early days the security guard would wink at me and go and help them, he was huge with a smart uniform and a peaked cap. Prole1 used to salute him.

They are much slicker these days but before we go in we often stand facing each other, all put our hands in the middle and do a team talk.
It used to be just me that did the team talk but now the others sometimes take their turn

Mine are clearly the most didactic and to the point.

Prole1’s go on for ages, re-hashing the long series of catastrophes that have befallen us as a family unit in the past. Crashed trollies, trips, bumps, collisions, dropped eggs and tantrums.
It is not just the Proles that have tantrums.

Prole2’s are the best.
By best I mean shortest.
He just likes the group ‘WhOOOOooooOOP!’ at the end where we all high five.

Prole1 drives the trolley with varied success. Most of the time he is fine.
At least he only really runs over members of his own family these days.

We follow the same route through the shop, scooping pretty much the same food each week.

We follow the same pattern on the ‘big shop’ nights but here there is a toy aisle where I take on the responsibility for the trolley and the Proles stare open mouthed at the consumer joy beyond their grasp.

We finish shopping, we go home, the Proles feed the cats and we spend the last half hour before bed watching telly.

As a parent I read about the importance of a steady routine.

I mapped out the days and joined them together into mapped out weeks.
The ceremony of the week evolved and unfolded but has maintained for years now.
What we do on each day of the week is really important.

The Proles really settled into the routine and as long as they knew where they were and what the game was they became relaxed and easy to be with.
I really started to appreciate it.
I knew the timings of the various days and knew what snacks to pack.
Which washing on what day to get us to the end of the week.
When to check for homework, which activities to switch to if the weather was bad.
The night we go shopping, the night we go swimming and so on. High point of the week is still pizza club with the godparents.

I still rely heavily on all this as the foundation of my week with them.

I am not so stupid that I have not self analysed and I know a huge part of the reason the Proles like routine is because I am easier to handle when I have a steady routine.

They can guess my moods and recognise patterns of behaviour.

I also just really like routine. It means I don’t have to think.

Tonight watching Prole1 eating cheese sandwiches instead of macaroni cheese gave me a chill of fear.

Alt his continues to evolve but the timeis coming when everything will have to change and move on.

I fear change.

That’s ok though.

That’s all part of me growing up.