The Shopkins Effect

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can you tell that this was not created using a template from the internet?

Back in May I talked about my youngest child’s 2 week abstinence from poohing! As a result, I hastily created a sticker chart. I say a chart, I drew some wobbly lines and wrote Pooh Stickers all over it which amused me because it made me think of Pooh Sticks in Winnie the Pooh. Nobody else seemed to get the joke though.  Oh well.  The rules were as follows: 2 small rabbit pellet poohs get 1 sticker, a medium sized pooh (left to discretion of inspector) gets 2 and a mahoosive log gets 3. Fair enough I thought. When she has filled in one row, she would get a prize up to a certain value.

Anyway, the Pooh Sticker Chart is going very well. There have been leaps and bounds and massive mounds of pooh! And stickers galore. This has resulted in an abundance of Shopkins.

What, I hear you ask are Shopkins?  Good question. I had no idea either. They are very small plastic collectible figures that mainly resemble items of food from celery to doughnuts, but sometimes home appliances like vacuum cleaners. They have little faces and come with tiny shopping baskets that I assume they must live in. They each have a name that relates to what they are like Cheekie Cherry and Pamela Pancake and some are apparently more rare than others.  Having investigated on the internet, I am informed that they have their own Youtube channel and a Twitter account.  They seem to have no provenance like a TV show or cartoon. They are utterly utterly bizarre, useless and I am unable to understand their purpose. Yet, they are truly a victory for the world of marketing as they are advertised mercilessly on the childrens’ tv channels resulting in children like my daughter believing that this is something they really really need.

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the ever increasing Shopkins collection

What does the kid do with them? Well, she mainly tips them out of her bag and lines them up and then she puts them back in her bag. Nice. That’s worth it then!

But actually, on balance, at the moment I am forced to say that yes, it is worth it as it is currently providing the most regular bowel movements of her 5 year existence!

One question I have asked myself is, when will the pooh chart be able to be safely shelved? How many weeks, months, years will the chart be the crutch, the incentive for a regular bowel movement? And, more crucially, how much more money can I justify spending on this stuff that, let’s face it, may well find its way into the bin before the year is out? There is a large part of me that feels guilty for denying my oldest daughter the joy of Silvanian Families or the other odd collectibles that were the rage when she was 5. I happily bought all that stuff for her friends’ birthday presents, delighting in palming off the tiny furry figures and their even tinier accessories.  Ha ha I would chuckle to myself – no child of mine will collect strange little items that will sit gathering dust and silently mocking my errant cleaning skills and chiding my empty bank account.

And yet, here I am in desperate times, bribing the youngest with tiny plastic avocadoes with scary faces. This is not helped by her obsession with Youtube and its abundance of films of what can only be described as saddo (though undoubtedly very shrewd) adults, usually American, who collect these things and film themselves opening the packages and cooing over them in high pitched whiney voices. The most prolific of these is Cookie C Swirl who seems to like Shopkins as well as the miniature My Little Pony toys that come in Kinder Eggs.  She gets hundreds of thousands of views which is just mind-blowing to me and inexplicable really.  But, whilst totally freaky, it is I guess, harmless and is clearly very lucrative for Cookie C Swirl!  And hey, because of it, my daughter is producing body waste every other day and is a whole lot more chirpy. We all have our crosses to bear.

FEEL IT!

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I had a visit from an old friend last week. Back in my twenties, when I was a bit sad, a bit lost, it was suggested I should find a job for a bit that was more fun than pressure. I had worked in a cool shop when I was back in London doing my Masters Degree. So I went back there. It was the most fun I ever had at work! I survived on very little sleep. I laughed a lot with an eclectic group of people. I met a lot of celebrities who seemed to like buying expensive, American homewares, furniture and electrical items! And most nights after work, we would go to the pub, get a bit tipsy, grab a KFC, maybe go clubbing, maybe go home! And I met a very tall, extremely funny Canadian guy who fancied other guys.

You know, we did what people in their 20’s do with no responsibilities, no dependants, no thoughts about the future, we went to cool clubs in Brixton, frequented the many gay bars of London town, danced a lot and drank vodka based drinks. We were often accompanied by my best friend (flatmate, also known as the wife). We did this kind of hanging out for a couple of years and then things changed a bit. He left the shop, and got a job in another shop, (traitor!) I met someone and started to spend more time doing the social thing with him – same shit really, just with straight clubs and sex!

And then my Canadian friend woke up and realized he should probably go back to Canada and start to be a grown up. It was really fucking sad saying goodbye to him. Whilst I’m not sure I realized it then, it is blindingly obvious now that this was the end of the years of living precariously and hedonistically (not that I would say I was living a life of gay abandon, pardon the pun). I had had a blissful episode in my life of living selfishly and right in the moment. It was something I really needed to do. But I’ll save the reasons for that for another time.

So we kept in touch for a bit. And then life started to happen. I got a slightly more serious job, my boyfriend and I bought a place together, we got married, I got pregnant. And then I lost contact with my friend. It wasn’t something considered, it just kind of happened. I kept thinking, ooh, I must contact my friend and the more time that passed the harder it got. You know that embarrassing feeling, when the time is so far gone that you can’t just drop a little line? And to be honest, I just assumed that this was the end of a beautiful friendship – some great memories, but we were just too far apart to be friends anymore.

So a few more years went by, and baby number 2 appeared. Facebook had suddenly entered our lives. And one evening, a message popped into my inbox. And it was my lovely Canadian friend. Suddenly, after all these years, he was back in my life. It was so fantastic to hear from him.  Seeing his name, reading his words and hearing his voice say them in my head seemed to wake up a bit of my brain that I had assumed was withered and now obsolete! I felt excited. He had been such a big part of my life. It was good to have him and the memories back. And did I mention how funny he was? So funny that sometimes I had to stop walking and cross my legs because I was laughing so much that I thought a bit of wee might actually come out (and we are talking pre baby pelvic floor as tight as anything so he MUST have been seriously fucking funny!)

Since receiving that message, he has visited the UK every year and we have met up for a few hours to catch up and see each other’s faces. It’s great. I think I probably talk too much about children and being a suburban dweller, and then, to compensate, I try to be 20 something Mim, which let’s face it, just doesn’t work. But to be fair, he has stuck with me! Put it this way, if he contacted me and said;

‘Look Mim, it’s been great and all that, but you are one boring bitch and I just don’t have time in my life for you!’

My response would be:

‘Yeah, I don’t blame you. Thanks for letting me know. Sorry about all that time you wasted. Love you, bye!’

This visit, he came to our pad in suburban suburbia. The kids hadn’t seen him since the year before last and they were excited to see him. Well, the 5 year old was unsure. She couldn’t remember that 2 years earlier, aged 3, she had clung desperately onto his 6 ft 6 frame and had regaled us all with stories of nursery including the fascinating subject of what fruit they had at snack time!

This time, she hid at first. Ok, I’ll give her that.   She’s a bit shy of people she doesn’t know (or doesn’t remember). That’s fine. At a push, it might seem quite cute. We all sat down to eat lunch. The monster was still a no show. I have to admit, at this point I had had a couple of glasses of prosecco (mainly for dutch courage) and I had almost stopped caring whether she turned up at the table. As I may have mentioned before, the 5 year old doesn’t eat much and she had already decreed that the dish on offer at lunch was not to her liking. And at this precise moment I wanted to eat my dinner, so her absence from the table was not such a hardship! About 4 mouthfuls into the meal, I noticed a little person peeping round the corner. I ignored it. A few more mouthfuls and she had scuttled under the table. Then I started to get a bit irritated and embarrassed quite frankly, so I tried to prise her from under the table to at least sit at the table and behave like a normal person. I don’t think it worked. Well, no, it didn’t work. I ignored it in my best parenting way. I sipped my prosecco.

In an act of desperation, I started to prepare beans on toast. This seemed to help and she finally took her place at the table.

She was wearing a jumper that I had picked up the day before on the sale rail in H&M. It had gone down well – a black sweatshirt with a furry cat face and some sequins on the front. Mmmm, stylish! I knew that she would love it and I was right – she had spent a good few minutes stroking the front of her jumper and pretending to be curly the kitten!

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ooh look at the nice furry cat on this jumper!

As I walked over to the dinner table with her plate of beans, I witnessed my daughter standing in front of my slightly perplexed, vaguely amused, jetlagged friend sticking her chest out and saying in a rather aggressive voice:

“feel it!”

My friend nodded politely, smiled and tried to finish what he was saying to the husband. Obviously, this was not the desired response.

“FEEL IT!”

This inspired a shocked look from my friend and hysterical laughter from the boy and the oldest child. I froze on the spot. It was funny but it was utterly horrific and embarrassing at the same time.

Not eliciting the correct response, once more she implored him to “FEEL IT”!

By this point we were all laughing. My friend had a little swipe of the cat on the front of the 5 year old’s jumper and this seemed to satisfy her. I was left unable to speak or function for a good minute or so. I think I was crying with laughter for many reasons, but mainly because it was so completely surreal.  The image of my daughter asking a relatively unknown man to feel her chest – yes, not something I would like to see again any time soon.

But don’t worry. I poured another glass of prosecco, pulled myself up and carried on.

Well, this certainly broke the ice.  Whilst painting her Daddy’s nails (purple), the 5 year old covered many subjects – My Little Pony (obviously), interminably long and complex stories about friends and teachers, her pooh sticker chart (the result of the 2 week constipation horror), and so much more. Inbetween her stopping for breath, we managed to do a bit of catching up, a bit of reminiscing and then off she would go again.

It was so good to see my Canadian, stylish, funny, loving friend. I am sure he will agree that we now have nothing left in common except that we shared a couple of years having loads of fun, laughing, dancing, drinking, pretending to do some work, bitching!!! I hope he has not left never to return. I hope he reflects on the 5 year old’s behaviour and is flattered by the attention she paid him. I hope he does not come to the conclusion that I am raising a brood of strange, socially inept misfits who blurt out random monosyllabic words and attack you at the dinner table. I hope the memory of what I once was and what we once had will remind him that if he sticks by me, then one day, I might be that person again!

Just FEEL IT!

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