On Saturday, I took my three boy-children to IKEA. Which, admittedly, is one of the stupider things one can do with three children on a Saturday. But the professor had left us for the land of Top Pot Donuts and Stumptown Coffee bright and early Saturday morning. And, single-parenting three blondies on as many hours of sleep necessitated some sort of excursion.

Initially I’d thought I could put the two older boys in their little playland-daycare. Because it had occurred to me a week earlier – while in the middle of Thanksgiving lunch with friends, no less – that the Hen was now toilet trained and eligible for forty five minutes of parental abandonment at the Swedish warehouse.

I had visions of Percy and I stumbling around the upper floor, in a semi-comatose state, while the older boys watched some inane movie and jumped in a pit of germ-ridden plastic balls. So I loaded the boys in the car-van and we drove to the gynormous blue building. Whose parking lot was filled with cars, because everyone else in Calgary, and probably Saskatchewan, had woken up with the very same idea.

The Gort has recently taken to pointing out every Chevy Venture he sees when we’re ‘out and about’, especially the champagne-colored ones. ‘There’s a van like ours!’ he announces excitedly each time. Followed, less than two minutes later, by ‘there’s another van like ours.’

Let’s just say, there is an absurd amount of champagne colored Chevy Ventures in North America. ‘There are a lot of cars like ours,’ he concluded on Saturday in the IKEA parking lot. ‘Yes,’ I replied in my ‘I love my Venture’ voice.

‘That must mean it’s the best car ever!’ he concluded. Which was only slightly different than what was going through my head.

We made our way to the store entrance, and found the line to get on the ‘waiting list’ for the playland, was five adults long. And the waiting area was filled with hopeful, on-the-list-already parents waiting patiently for their children’s names to be called.

‘Twas not meant to be for the Johnsons. So we found a wonky cart (why are all the carts at IKEA incapable of going straight) and I loaded my cherubs in said cart and we began the game of killing time whilst walking through the prescribed IKEA maze.

I was staring at the kitchen section in a decidedly aimless manner when an older Asian lady stopped in front of our cart. ‘You have three……..’ and it seemed she wasn’t quite sure if my children were all of the same gender or not, so I helped her out ‘boys’. ‘Ah, three boys,’ she declared. ‘I have three girls,’ she proceeded to tell me while making a sad face. Which was comically bizzarre because I thought she was going to tell me she had three (very old) boys as well, but then she threw me off with the girls bit. And then the sad bit.

Who publicly professes sadness about the gender of their children? Apparently this Asian grandma, that’s who. She stared at the contents of my cart. ‘So, this is number 2, (pointing to the Hen) and this is number 3, and that is number 1’. Which amused me to no end, seeing as the birth order is pretty obvious at this stage of the game. She pointed to their blond hair ‘but your hair so black,’ she remarked. Dumbfounded by the three genetic anomalies. I muttered some incoherent nonsense about how their dad’s hair is even blacker and made some sort of hand motion which was magically meant to convey ‘but he used to be blond when he was a boy.’ I’m not capable of speaking and making sense, it seems.

‘I like boys,’ she decided as she gave me the thumbs up and walked away.

After whiling away an hour and a half at IKEA, and ingesting two ‘hot dogs’ we drove to Costco. For more time-killing. And snacking on the myriad of juices and yogurts and cheese available at the sampling stations. Since I was in a time-killing mood, I prolonged the experience rather than just getting my stuff and getting out. Which is why, by the time we got to the check-out, the boys were going nuts. The older two were running around the cart in circles, and wrestling and diving onto the concrete floor. And Percy was wailing about the injustice of it all.

‘Are you guys driving your mother crazy,’ the cheerful cashier inquired. ‘Yes,’ I confessed. ‘So, you have three…..’ and he trailed off mid-sentence, clearly unsure. Apparently when you dress your boy baby in red pants and a blue and white striped shirt, it’s problematic for the gender-diviners of the world. Especially if the baby in question has a teensy bit of a mullet thing going on.

‘Boys,’ I filled in the blank for the cashier.

5 thoughts on “Satur-daze

  1. Oh sweetheart… you and I have so many of these shared moments.

    Do you recall my IKEA rant on FB some months ago? I also hate the carts, the forced Borg-esque path through the store (everyone must look at everything; resistance is futile), and the fact one cannot leave the store without purchasing something, or at least barreling their way through a checkout line. And heaven forbid one should want to call the store directly.

    But beyond that, I have boy-girl-boy birth order. When Rachel was a baby, her hair was almost non existent. Cue ball bald, not even enough to tape a bow onto. I dressed her in feminine colors (fuchsia, lime green, purple, and the occasional baby girl pink). I had a grandpa type ask if I had two boys on a head-to-toe pink day. My kids were platinum blonde when their hair came in, and I also got the “their father must be blonde” comments. Because it is impossible for someone to darken their hair chemically or have it occur naturally as they aged, apparently. My hair was in fact blonde for the first seven years of my life, then started to darken. And yes, my husband was also blonde as a child and now is mostly grey. I have often considered telling them I was adopted and see if they get it.

    People just don’t know what to say anymore, since so many people take offense at the oddest things. One day I dressed 4 yr old Josh and 1 yr old Rachel in the exact same outfit just for fun. Even as different sexes, they looked like carbon copy kids. They were wearing dark blue t-shirts and Osh Kosh conductor overalls (the pinstripy ones). One grandpa type commented about how nice my boys looked. I did not say a word other than thank you, since Rachel was still sporting nature’s crew cut as her hair had not come in. But some people would have been completely offended that he could not tell she was a girl. I met a mom who had a child with hair to the waist. I never got to see the child’s face, so based on the waist length wavy hair, I asked about her daughter. Turns out, he was a boy. Of course, once I looked at his face, I could tell. You can’t even assume by names any more. Avery. Riley. Taylor. Ryan (yep, it’s becoming a girl’s name too). Bailey. So rather than say the wrong thing, people say nothing or stumble through and still end up looking like idiots.

    Of course on the other end, some people are willing to say entirely too much. A friend of mine has two girls, ages 6 and 4, and twin boys, 18 months. A woman at Target asked her if they were all hers (no, she borrowed a couple for fun), and then commented that she was glad they were my friend’s and not hers because she could not handle that many. Kelly did not know what to say in response as she stood there stunned. I told her the answer should have been “I guess your parents had one too many children of their own.”

    As for the sad Asian grandma, you know their cultures still value boys over girls. Boys carry on legacies and family names. Boys represent virility. Never mind that without enough girls, the virility is for naught.

    By the way, I am not sure if you remember Angela Albright (now Sipe). She lived in Botsford on the first floor in the square room at the end of the hall and had long blonde hair. She was a senior your freshman year. Anyway, she has 10 children so far, just adopted number 11, and is preparing to birth #12 in February. (Bethany is FB friends with her husband Brian, so you can see who she is that way). She makes me feel woefully underskilled at times in mothering, but at the same time, she also has a much different temperament than I. But I can only imagine the chaos that 10 can bring. And the mess.

    We’re in this together, even if thousands of miles apart. Think of the stories you can tell your daughters-in-law!

  2. I just love it when they get to the falling on the floor stage – for whatever reason. Then everyone looks at you like “Doesn’t she know how filthy the floor is!!” Yes she does folks but sometimes it just doesn’t matter anymore.

  3. Shawn, if you want to take the Venture off our hands, just let me know. I’ll even throw in a CD of the Wonderpets theme song for your collective enjoyment! Diana, I’ve started just going to the ‘Market’ part of IKEA, and skipping the showroom. It makes for a faster excursion. (But seriously, what is up with the carts?) Kim, I definitely sensed the people behind me were freaking out about the boys rolling on the floor. But, precisely, I’m out of leverage at that stage of the game.


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