Ikea. With Kids.

I wanted to write about this yesterday, but it has taken me this long to recover. Mostly I present a somewhat tough persona to the world; if you didn’t know me, you might even be intimidated by 5’10” of flaming redhead coming at you, all flashing dark eyes and Slavic cheekbones. Unfortunately none of these work on my children, who persist in being unafraid of me. And all my toughness collapses when faced with the horror of what I endured with them yesterday – Labor Day Sunday at Ikea.

It started innocently enough. A couch, appearing perfect online, with a reasonable price, needed to be inspected in real life, lest trick lighting was being used to entice us towards an upholstered lemon. Had the couch been photoshopped to appear more beautiful? Had someone used Gaussian Blur to smooth out the dappled leather, make it look younger and creamier than it really was? Was the middle wider than advertised? Was this a couch that would really turn heads, or had it been digitally manipulated to look perfect, thereby intimidating other couches and making them feel inferior?

We set off like innocent babes, the children and I, leaving Wonder Dad (who is also Wonder Organizer) to make order out of the chaos of our new home. There was a lightness, a giddiness even, as we set off to Burbank. From Malibu. On a Public Holiday. (Google it.) Within exactly two minutes this lament was heard from the back, “My tummy huwts…”

“Sweetie,” I replied, not wanting to sound insensitive, “Your tummy always hurts. You probably ate gluten…”

“My Tummy Hurts” became a mantra, replacing all other communication for the next fifteen minutes, as I scrambled to drive, find homeopathic remedies in my glove compartment, open water bottles and turn air conditioning vents to impossible angles. Nux Vomica worked, and he slumped over in seconds, like I’d given him a shot of heroin. The older son, who takes after his father and can sleep standing up in a water closet, had already fallen asleep in the front seat and I was in heaven.

We made miraculous time, especially since I got to listen to my own music the whole way, because they claim Dubstep makes their “tummies hurt.” I can’t wait until they’re teenagers into death-metal/gangster-rap/something-that-hasn’t-been-invented-yet so I can tell them their music is making my tits ache.

They woke up in Burbank, and were remarkably calm for the never-ending turns that Google maps told me to take. (I wish I had a GPS Biyatch with an accent.)

Upon arriving at the Ikea blue building, our spirits sank visibly as we saw that it was going to take us forty minutes to traverse two blocks. With a courage I didn’t possess I assured the kids that the line was “not as long as it looked.” Sure enough it moved fast enough to reveal two lanes, one of which was completely empty, the other full of backed up cars all the way to the Ikea parking lot. The empty lane was bordered on one side by safety cones, but in no way restricted. It seemed to me that a bunch of human beings were simply following each other in a drone-like fashion, and I immediately turned into the empty lane.

“Don’t,” warned the rule-abiding older son, “It’s against the law…” The renegade younger kid had no trouble with it, probably preferring that I drive up onto the median on the wrong side of the road. After being told off by a security guard for trying to come in through the out gate, we finally settled on a nearby parking lot, chuckling at the losers still stuck in line.

The first stop was food; if I’ve learned anything from parenting it’s that I will get no co-operation if I don’t stuff the little fuckers full of carbs first. They were actually being remarkably adorable and I was leaning down to kiss them often, sudden surges of love I couldn’t resist. It wasn’t long until we hit the Cafffeee, and with it the endless hoi polloi, lining up to feed at the free trough. I’d forgotten the free food offer this weekend! Again, using all the patience I could muster I reassured the kids that I would stand in the line, if they reserved us a table. It was a great theory, as I could still see them from where I was standing, protection against suspected Swedish peadophiles trying to get more than gravy with their meatballs. I even gave them my iPhone, thinking that would keep them occupied. And it did. For about twelve seconds. Until I looked over and saw the two fruits of my blessed loins engaged in some kind of physical confrontation involving hitting, kicking, punching and screaming, as people looked around and wondered what kind of awful mother would leave two siblings alone like this?

I asked the woman behind me in line if she could mind my spot, and she replied in an accent I couldn’t place (maybe Finish,) “Okay, yah, sure. Come on… Patience, mom.”

They say G-d speaks through other people. But they are wrong. They should actually shut the hell up and not offer unsolicited advice in unidentifiable accents about matters they know nothing about.

I broke through the other lunchers, and separated the two Warriors, relegating each to their own chair as they sobbed and told me what the other had done. In a rare surge of maternal instinct, I rushed back to the food station and filled two small Ketchup holders with Sierra Mist. That’s right, I bribed my kids with soda. Sadly I just didn’t have any raw Kale chips handy…

They loved their food, the older continually repeating, “I love these Swedish meatballs. Mommy these Swedish meatballs are delicious. Do you want a Swedish meatball, mommy? Samson, don’t touch my Swedish meatballs. Wait okay you can have a Swedish meatball…”

It was so touching to see a young Jewish child have so much naive excitement for pork.

After three full main courses, and several desserts each for them (not to mention three trips to the bathroom) we got back on the road to see the couch, otherwise known as the OmkvatdossierBjork.

It was indeed perfect. We sat on it, in silent awe. Then everything fell apart, starting with Samson’s flip flop which disintegrated off his foot, possibly from the smell. Then he lost the other one, so he was now running around looking like he had that kind of parent. I guess feelings of freedom coursed through his veins as he started Kung Fu kicking his brother. As I measured pieces with lightning speed, and struggled with the gigantic Ikea Blue bag, I tried to lead them through endless miles of melamine. I trudged bravely on, weighed down by increasing white sundries I didn’t know we needed, as the boys continued beating each other up from boredom.

By the time we got to the register I had decided to do what I usually do when we get to Customs coming back from Australia and just let them fight it out, Gladiator-style, trying to remain oblivious to the condemning looks of those around me. The bizarre thing was that for every flare up when someone got seriously injured, they made up moments later and then started physically attacking each other all over again. It reminded me of having a bad boyfriend, but you just can’t help yourself, the sex was so good. I guess these kids are too young for sex, so fighting is the only release they can get. I’m just speculating here…

After being referred to three more counters, delivery was arranged, Samson had black feet and red marks on his chest and David had a fat lip. Then we had to struggle carrying all of our purchases in our arms (as the shopping cart locked electronically) in two hundred degree heat to the adjacent parking lot, because in our wisdom we thought we were gaining an advantage by parking there. Samson ran from shady spot to shady spot on his defenseless feet with his new mantra, “It buwns, mommy, it buwns.”
It certainly does, son. It certainly does.

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