The day started off auspiciously enough; or no less auspiciously than any other day.
My oldest asked me to construct a digger for him out of his IKEA Bygga construction set. The one he’s had for more than three years; which currently has about a fourth of the pieces it started with in December 2005. ‘I can’t make that for you, we don’t have all the pieces,’ I explained. ‘We’ll have to go to IKEA and buy another set.’
That was all the incentive he needed. He jumped up and got dressed in about two minutes. ‘Let’s go to My-kea!’ he announced.
So we went to ‘My-kea’ to pick up another construction set. When we were there a few weeks ago, I actually thought: ‘we should just buy another set’ – knowing how depleted ours was, and knowing how much both boys like playing with it. If only I had.
When we arrived at the toy section of the gargantuan store today they were completely out of Bygga construction sets. The shelf that was filled to the brim with said items just two or three weeks ago, was now bare as a communist grocery store.
You’ve got to be kidding me: what are the odds?
Luckily the boys – mainly the big one – got distracted by the plethora of other toys nearby and no tears were shed. I asked ‘Aga’, the helpful IKEA employee if they were planning on getting any more sets and she said they should have more by the end of the week. Fine.
Suddenly, quite possibly due to the proximity of the IKEA restaurant, my boys developed an intense thirst that could only be quenched by IKEA juice. So we stopped and got some juice, and a couple of cinnamon rolls. And a cup of vile coffee.
I grabbed some straws for the juice bottles and seated my sidekicks at a nearby table. Due to the absence of a booster seat, I placed the Hen upon my lap so he could reach the table – and his juice bottle more easily.
Well, the Hen treats any container of liquid as he would a sippy cup. He tilts the container toward his mouth in order to drink. Even if there’s a straw inside; even if the lid of the bottle has been removed.
When one does that with a glass bottle of juice, the juice will spill. Everywhere. On the child, on the parent holding the child, and on the floor. After attempting to wipe off most of the damage, we moved to the other – juice-free – side of the table. At which point I mysteriously knocked over the cup of vile coffee in front of me, spilling coffee all over the table and floor. Our table looked like a disaster zone – like it needed those yellow plastic signs: ‘caution, wet floor’ that they put in supermarkets when someone has spilled an enormous bottle of something in the middle of the aisle.
I cleaned the top of the table as best I could, and we hustled out of there.
After dropping Mr. G off at preschool, the Hen and I went for a walk. When we returned to our domicile, I handed him a snack of blueberry applesauce. When I denied him access to his brother’s (used) cup of water left over from lunch, he got mad. Threw his purple applesauce to the floor. The beige carpeted floor. I strapped him in the naughty chair, gave him all kinds of glares and rants, but he didn’t care. I was the one who had to clean the purple sauce from the rug.
‘Are you guys coming to the gallery opening tonight,’ my husband asked me this morning. I wanted to say ‘no absolutely not’ but it somehow turned into ‘what time is it’ when the words came out of my mouth. I surveyed Mr. G, thinking he might put the kabosh on yet another boring, child-un-friendly gathering at the university. ‘Do you want to go to a party at Daddy’s work tonight,’ I asked. ‘Will there be snacks?’ he asked. And the matter was settled. We were going to the 5pm reception.
When G arrived home from school, he found a few items passed on to us by a kind Calgarian. ‘Are these for me?’ he asked, motioning to the bright yellow lifejacket and green rubber boots. ‘Yes,’ I replied.
Before the ‘yes’ had left my mouth, he’d already put on the life jacket and boots. He walked around the house as if he’d hit the veritable clothing jackpot. ‘You look so handsome,’ I made the mistake of saying. He did look adorable, but, in hindsight, I should have told him that later. After the reception.
It was nearing time to leave and he was still wearing his water gear. ‘What do you want to wear to Daddy’s party,’ I asked, even though I knew the answer. ‘I want to wear my life jacket and boots,’ he replied. ‘So I can show Dad.’
I gently tried to dissuade him, but it didn’t work. I couldn’t tell him not to wear the items, so I thought I’d try a more subtle approach. But subtle and the age of almost five don’t go together. He was oblivious.
As we walked out of the house, I patted myself on the back for letting my child ‘march to the beat of his own drum’. But when we got to the car I could hear the (older) boys across the street: ‘he’s wearing a lifejacket to play outside.’ Oh, geez. I felt my nonchalant, ‘could-care-less’ facade falter.
When we got out of the car at the University, I could see the students and faculty members smirking as they looked at my child wearing a bright yellow life jacket. It was a long walk to the building. I thought I was keeping it together pretty well until I actually looked at him.
He was wearing a life jacket. Over his clothes. In the middle of winter. No boat or body of water in sight.
I tried to muffle my snickering unsucessfully.