This past weekend we went to Ikea. I was really, really determined to get to Ikea. Since my precious baby will soon be ousted from his crib by Li'l Wanya, we need some big boy furniture, and quick. And because toddlers are super destructive little beasts, we don't want to spend a lot of cash.
Enter Ikea. My whole weekend: built upon getting to Ikea. Did I mention I really was completely batshit crazy about getting to Ikea this weekend? In addition to bargain, minimalist furniture, I romanticized that Hendrik could connect with his Swedish roots. Look, baby! Lingonberries!
(I spoke a lot about lingonberries as we got closer to Ikea. They remind me of being a child at my Far-Mor and Far-Far's house. After I mentioned them for the fifth time, J said: "You know they're just like cranberries, right?" God, he is so not Scandinavian.)
We finally arrived at Ikea late Saturday afternoon. We are still at the mercy of the child's afternoon nap, which is approximately 12 - 3 on any day we wish to go somewhere at a certain time. So we entered Ikea's massive parking lot around 4 PM, and I was taken aback by all of the cars.
"God, don't these people have anything better to do than be at Ikea on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon?" I remarked to J, without irony.
Oh my God, guys. Ikea. It is a fucking soul-sucking, hellish pit of soul-suckiness. There were 8008709 people there. They were everywhere. And the signage! There are like, secret passages to get where you are going. And we couldn't find them! And we were walking in circles! And H was running away! Our stress-levels escalated quickly. We grabbed a $10 wooden train set for H and decided to high-tail it out of there. Only, in Ikealand, they don't let you high-tail ANYWHERE. They make you work for it and walk past the miscellaneous stuff. You know, all the crap you don't really need but they somehow seep into your fragile psyche at this point and you find yourself loading up on wooden salad bowls and trays.
We followed signs for the checkout. We walked for miles, and Hendrik was agitated by now, and every mile marker I would spot an idle employee in yellow, and beg, "Please? Where is the checkout?" And they would smile malevolently and tell us we were headed in the right direction.
And then we arrived - at the SELF checkout. The lines were hideously long, and these animals had more than 15 items in their carts! We had two things. My gallant husband put these things down and said: "We can order this online - we need to get out."
But wait! They seriously had the exits blocked and locked and fixed with ALARMS. The only way out was through the checkout line. Evil Swedes!
We made it out alive. My pregnant feet were aching. We had survived.
When we arrived home, J got to preparing the turkey burgers (and hard drinking) and I told him I needed to lay down for a moment. Hendrik followed me into the living room imploring: "Choo choo? Want choo-choo train? Wanna play choo choo train!"
J and I glanced at each other, panicked, and I grabbed my son's hands and said, as calmly as possible: "Honey, I'm so sorry; Mommy and Daddy didn't get the choo choo. We'll have to wait a little bit longer, but we will get you the choo choo."
The boy collapsed in a swell of tears and naked emotion. "NOOOOOOOOOOO!" He writhed on the floor. "WANT CHOO CHOO!" He sobbed.
I couldn't help it: I started sobbing too.
For the first time in his 22 months, we had let him down. We had been so irritated, we hadn't bothered to tell him we weren't going to buy him the choo choo. We hadn't done it to avoid a tantrum; we had acted impulsively and hadn't considered our son's expectations and feelings.
He was just so: hurt. I saw the future: there will be other hurts, and they will be heart-crushing for his parents to witness. I love him so fiercely; perhaps I should just keep him inside the house for the rest of his life? I will make him a whole room full of choo choos.
He calmed down. It took me much longer to stop crying. We sat on the couch watching airplane videos on YouTube while I hugged him and apologized and told him how much we love him. I vowed in my mind to never blindside him again. I suppose, in the end, it was a worthy lesson.
This post brought to you by Ikea: Where Dreams are Dashed and Families Are Torn Apart.