We went to IKEA during one of the worst times to venture into the Swedish metropolis: late Sunday afternoon of a sale weekend. It was completely packed. Nathan asked if he could visit the ball pit, but the line to drop off kids in the children’s play area was incredibly long as if they were passing out free pies and hams for the first 100 people, not giving parents an hour of kid-free shopping. Plus, once you got through the line, there was an additional 30 minute wait to even get in. And Nathan didn’t remember that the last time we dropped him off there, he was kicked out for BEING SAD. And since we’re digging through my institutional knowledge, this was also where my mom outed me for my non-dairy breastfeeding related woes.
All I wanted were two new lamps, but Nathan clung onto the sweet memory of diving into the germ-filled ball pit so the entire way. Mike walked with him while I ducked into one of the fake showrooms to check out a floor lamp and Nathan then yelled, “MOM-MEEEE! MOM-MEEEEEE!”
I zipped back out and saw him wriggling like he was brought to life in a tent revival. “YOU RANG, SIRRRR?!? I bellowed. A couple who had been eying me, maybe to see if I would yell back or go ballistic, what will she do?!, laughed at our exchange.
He was getting more worked up as the time passed, taking the shortcuts and weaving through aisles didn’t help. Eventually, TJ didn’t care because he was strapped in my baby carrier. I pushed Nathan in the umbrella stroller as he announced his plans to go to the ball pit, this mythical area where kid’s dreams to bond with cheap plastic toys come true. This magical Shangri-La where parents are kept on the other side of a glass wall and their pleas of “PLEASE KEEP YOUR PANTS ON IN THERE!” and “FINGER OUT OF THE NOSE!!” go unheard.
We grabbed two simple lamps and headed to the cash register because we were already at the point where Nathan was starting his oh-so-lovely psychological battle of saying he wants something, then when our spirits have been broken and we say, “Okay, you want that?! Let’s get it,” he recants instantly and says, “No. I don’t want it.”
MAGNETS CHILDREN, HOW DO THEY WORK?!?
I know my son well enough to know when he gets overstimulated, it’s like trying to hold jelly in a vice. It becomes a futile effort to bring him back to a place of reasoning which is already impossible because reasoning with a four-year-old is crazy talk. So as he’s wriggling in a stroller meant for babies, I say, “Okay, you can have ice cream but what flavor: vanilla or monkey butts?”
“Monkey butts!” he screeched. He repeated it in the high-pitched voice like how funny and absurd this is, where can I get this? When can I pitch monkey butts to some angel investors?! The idea of monkey butt ice cream or any butt-related flavor that was made with him in mind was enough to pull us through the register, the trip back to the car and back to our home where he insisted I check out his new invention: the two-fisted binoculars, something so simple that even a frazzled, sweaty and manic mom like me could see what this sweet little boy was trying to say.