Today we visited one of the most beautiful zoos in the world; but I’m going to write about Bunnings. Bunnings is the wet weather destination for toddlers.
Sydney has recently been experiencing some inclemency bordering on the ridiculous. Miserable, persistent, stubborn, unwelcoming rain that started off as a fine novelty but has now descended into something of a ubiquitous, bitter, irritant; like kale.
This weather pattern is not conducive to easy parenting, certainly not with our child. Milo is no Ferris Bueller; in the art of escape he has no patience, no guile, no ingenuity and no subtlety. As soon as his big plastic sea-shell filled with smaller plastic balls has been emptied down the stairs, all of the electric fans in the house have been switched on, the buzzy-bee ride-on wheely thing has been lifted up onto the spare mattress and the house denuded of all bananas, Milo wants out. He is immediately at the front door trying to force his little fingers into the crack to pry it open, becoming increasingly frustrated and more feverishly pistoning his little fists up and down. Even with no destination in mind, it is time to go.
Ordinarily that spiky pale green plastic ball that apparently helps your clothes dry more efficiently in the dryer, a handful of bread sticks, a banana and a steady stream of neighbourhood dogs for mutual sniffing in the park will buy us an hour at least. But with these monsoonal conditions our usual haunts are inaccessible.
This morning our solution was a purposeless visit to Bunnings. Here’s why Bunnings is such a terrific wet weather destination for adventurous toddlers:
- The allure of danger – controlled hazards are everywhere. Upon arrival I place Milo on the ground and let him walk, mumbling and chirping to himself. He rounds the first corner and comes face to face with an entire wall of dangling axes. From tiny ones suitable for scalping all the way to battle-axes presumably only purchased by Dwarf warriors like Gimli. Milo is overwhelmed by the thrill of it; he taps at them gently and grins at me. They appear precarious but of course they are well fixed and immovable. A little way down this aisle an end-cap dedicated to rat-poison. Again, Milo doesn’t completely understand but he knows the little packets of well-sealed bottles with the picture of the sheep on the outside (every animal is a sheep to Milo) are dangerous contraband. He pokes at them a little, giggles, and continues. Of course this goes on, aisle after aisle. Precariously stacked terracotta pots, awkwardly piled shovels, ride-on lawn-mowers that don’t start, secateurs with their little mouths tied together, packets of vacuum-sealed fertiliser, power tools safely held in smooth plastic boxes. All of it a delight to my son and all of it, with a little supervision, quite safe.
- Enormous fans – Bunnings has the largest ceiling fans you will find anywhere. These alone are enough to transfix Milo for an hour. He looks up in awe, grinning while absent-mindedly spiraling his hand around in a clockwise direction.
- Empty kitchen cabinets – the display kitchen section of Bunnings is Milo’s dream destination. Dozens of cupboards to open and close and open again, all of them empty, all of them at Milo height, none of them off-limits.
- The soundtrack – it is nothing but easy listening 90s favourites like Paula Abdul and Lenny Kravitz, pleasing to Milo’s ears and his hips.
- Tiny trolleys – no additional description required here except to say they are significantly easier to maneuver than the adult version. I preference them for my own shopping if Milo is nearby to give me credibility. Unfortunately it is not uncommon (when also shopping with Kuepps) for Milo to wander off at the key moment of payment and for me to be left alone with the tiny trolley at the self-serve checkout. Nothing says ‘credibility’ like a shin high trolley filled with a cactus, a smurf gnome and two packets of 3M hooks.
The above list is before you even get to the actual children’s play equipment that is set up and ready to go, and the fact that such a journey enables me to indulge in one of my true passions; browsing Bunnings without buying anything.
We gave knowing looks to two other dads alone with their young sons and daughters this morning exercising the same brand of wet-weather Bunnings parenting; same empty tiny trolleys, same contented looks, same tomato sauce on their collars.