Mitchell’s an interesting fellow. He loves climbing. Yes, yes, I know this is a generic little boy trait. But he LOVES climbing. And jumping. This didn’t bode well for my childhood dresser that he’d inherited. The poor thing hadn’t exactly had an easy life with me, so it was already shaky, and the drawers didn’t have stoppers, so I can’t tell you how many times I thought I’d broken a toe when a drawer landed on it. But when Mitchell started trying to climb it, I knew it needed to be replaced. I panic enough already, I don’t need to see visions of that dresser toppling onto him.
So, off to Ikea we went on Friday. One mommy, one 3 year old, one 8 month old, and no list. What could go wrong, right? I planned on leaving the house at 9, and after a giant meltdown about a missing backpack, having to scour the house for the exact right Hour Wheels to put in the backpack once it’d been found, never-ending snack packing because the snacks kept getting eaten the minute I packed them, and the largest spit-up I’ve ever seen, which required TWO outfit changes (mine and Rosie’s), we finally left a little before 10. Not bad. But we had one thing going for us: Mitchell’s now potty trained and therefore could stay at the children’s play area for an hour while I picked out his dresser!
We got to Ikea before 11, and I signed him into the play area. Keep in mind that Mitchell is rarely left with anyone but myself or Justin. Very, very rarely. So I was a little nervous. Mitchell wasn’t. He was watching the kids through the windows and practically vibrating with excitement. The workers were a little hesitant because he was just barely tall enough, but they let him in. They have me a pager like when you’re waiting for a table at a restaurant and had me write my phone number on a bracelet for him. As soon as they opened the door for him, he was off. Awesome, right?
Rosie and I walked off and the shopping commenced. I perused. I tested drawers. I compared prices. I took notes. I was shopping to the extreme. Rosie occupied herself by bringing a smile to every face we passed. Even the old men who were obviously dragged there under extreme duress couldn’t resist smiling and cooing at her.
I checked my phone often, and around 11:30 I decided to grab Mitchell and take him to the cafeteria for lunch, even though it wasn’t time to pick him up until 12:15. When I got there, I could see Mitchell in an upstairs room playing with another boy his age. “Aww, he found a friend!” I thought. I watched him, heart melting, as I waited my turn. I finally got to the counter and said I was Mitchell’s mom, reaching for the pager at the same time. As I pulled it out, I noticed it was going off. I was confused and definitely not ready when the worker raised her eyebrows in the universal “what the hell kind of mother are you” expression and told me, “Mitchell *dramatic pause* has not been following the rules. At all.” “Oh my goodness,” I say. “What did he do?” In my head I was picturing him hitting another child, pushing, breaking things, and many other terrible, awful scenarios that I would have to find a way to blame on Grandpa’s terrible influence.
“He’s been jumping. Into the ball pit. Constantly. We cannot get him to stop.” She said this all very seriously, and very, very angrily.
I swear to goodness, at this point I thought I was on Candid Camera. I bit my lip to keep myself from laughing with relief. Oh, my kid isn’t a monster, you say? Of course I didn’t say that. I think I stuttered something like “Oh?”
“Yes. It’s one of our rules. We have you a copy when you signed him in. It’s a safety thing.”
I resisted the urge to point out that if they have me a copy as I signed him in, I wouldn’t have had a chance to go over the rules with him. Or that he’s 3, and it really doesn’t matter how many times I tell him not to jump in a ball pit, that’s his first instinct. I just said “Oh, yes, that’s bad,” trying to act as serious as she was. I hear the other worker holler for Mitchell, and as he came down the stairs, he took off running. “There he goes again,” the other either said, clearly exasperated. And, sure enough, about two seconds later, I heard the splash of a very happy toddler jumping in a very large ball pit. When they brought him out, they both looked completely grim, while he was grinning so big he looked like a jack-o-lantern. “Mommy, I jumped in the water! Can I go back?” he exclaimed as I put him into the cart. With the two workers watching, I put on a very serious face, which is very hard to do when looking into an ecstatic 3 year old’s face, and said “No, you can’t, because you didn’t follow the rules.” I swear, I could feel those two workers glaring at us as we left.
I remained firm as long as I could, but Mitchell was so darn excited and happy about his time in the play center that eventually I had to just grin along with him. I’m still trying to take the fact that he got kicked out of the Ikea play center for jumping in the ball pit seriously. It’s hard though. He was jumping. In a ball pit. C’mon.
But anyway. I had no idea if he was still going to be crazy hyper or if he’d be worn out, so I decided to just head for the maze of self-serve furniture warehouse so hopefully we’d get out of there with at least a dresser. Luckily I’d written everything down, so we made pretty quick time. Or, as quick of time as you can when you’re grabbing seventeen different boxes for one dresser. I bribed good behavior from the kids with a container of sweet puffs, and Mitchell had a blast doing the “one for Rosie, and two for me!” thing. As I was loading all the boxes onto the conveyor belt, I happened to turn around and notice absolutely everyone behind us, even from surrounding lines, was watching us. I slowly turned to the kids to see if Mitchell had managed to get his underwear off, but no, he was intact. Finally I asked one of them if I had poop on my back, but she just laughed and said they were all just watching my kids. Huh. Ok. Well, I guess that’s good somebody is, because I’m busy schlepping this entire dresser down a conveyor belt!
We grabbed a couple hot dogs for Mitchell, the kids ate in the car, and then we were off for home! It’s very convenient that Ikea made a dresser that fits entirely in the back of my car.
Mitchell, exhausted from all that rule breaking, fell asleep almost immediately when we got home. Since Rosie had slept on the ride home, she decided to stay awake for the spectacle of Mommy putting together a dresser. Or she just knew a good jungle gym opportunity when she saw it.
An undisclosed amount of time later, I’d gotten it put together enough for Rosie to declare it a play pen.
As soon as Mitchell woke up, he decided it was a bed.
But, finally (like, 5 hours later), it was completely assembled and in Mitchell’s room. And the only thing it’s missing is feet! I stupidly didn’t realize they came in YET ANOTHER box. But at least Mitchell loves it, mostly because he thinks it’s fun to jump off of. He’s also enjoying having easy access to all his clothes (see previous post). And I’m enjoying the peace of mind knowing it’s not capable of toppling!
So…Ikea conquered! We’ll just have to plan our next trip around those two workers’ shifts. And keep doing that until all the workers know him as a jumper and he’s completely banned from Ikea play center. Hopefully he never wants to go to Sweden. I’m pretty sure if you get banned from Ikea you’re automatically banned from Sweden.