Where do you go when you’ve been cooped up inside the house for 36 hours and it’s too miserable to walk outside? Costco….and IKEA, of course. And so, we Johnsons ventured out into the all-white outdoors, steering the car-van towards warehouse-land on this, our second day of ‘Spring’ Break.
When we got to IKEA, the oldest boys ran into the men’s room near the entrance. Because the seven year old is determined to become superindependent. He wants to ride the bus. He wants to walk to the park by himself. He wants to cross busy streets, alone. Etcetera. This is a little hard for me, being something of a control freak. So I’m trying to navigate the tension between his desire to be self-sufficient and my desire to protect, and make concessions where I can.
The latest concession is the IKEA bathroom. He’s reached the age where he’s unwilling to enter a public bathroom with a ‘girl’ sign on the door. But I haven’t yet reached the age where I feel at ease about sending him to a public men’s room, alone. Except at IKEA, where I convince myself it’s okay as long as I stand near the entrance….and send the Hen in with him.
As I stood outside the restroom, listening for the boys and waiting for the professor and the baby who were parking the car, I heard a voice. It was the voice of my three year old, yelling: ‘wipe my butt, mom’. It’s entirely possible that all the patrons inside IKEA heard it because the Hen has some serious pipes.
The Gort ran outside to inform me that the Hen needed me. ‘I’m not going in there, you’re going to have to help him,’ I protested. Which is laughable, really. What little brother would let his older brother help him in the bathroom? Not the Hen, anyway.
‘No, I want mommy,’ he insisted-yelled.
A man exited the bathroom, laughing. ‘I don’t think anyone else is in there if you want to go help him,’ he suggested.
And then another man went in there, just as my resolve began to crumble. ‘I want mommy,’ the voice reiterated. The second man came out, laughing. ‘He only wants his mom,’ the guy shrugged. Just in case I hadn’t heard
I glanced at the entrance, willing the professor to show up. At last I spied a brown puffy vest carrying a small red jacket. Problem solved.
After the bathroom episode, we headed to the ‘restaurant’ because it was already past 5pm. And I hadn’t had any other culinary epiphanies. ‘I want macaroni and cheese and chocolate milk,’ the Gort announced before sitting down. The Hen concurred. Really, they only want the chocolate milk. They rarely eat the actual food, choosing, instead, to clutch the small carton of goodness and suck it down with a straw in less than three seconds. Percy hasn’t yet mastered this ‘art’. He still tips the carton towards his face (whilst drinking with a straw) resulting in an avalanche of chocolate milk. Every. Time.
After dinner, the professor headed to Best Buy with the littlest red jacket. And I sat on a sofa while the oldest boys played at one of the ‘unsupervised play areas.’ Then we ventured to the ‘As Is’ area, to see if any tremendous bargains awaited us.
There were none, so we walked back to the entrance to wait for our ride. ‘Boys are good and girls are bad!’ the Hen trumpeted his new favorite saying. I’ve no idea how he and his brother came upon this choice grouping of words, but I hear it a lot.
A twentysomething guy was standing to the side, watching my three year old march with vigorous elbows, belting out his misogynistic slogan. ‘Yeah,’ he laughed-agreed.