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.