The IKEA Incident / by Susie Lubell

Yesterday was a beautiful day but instead of spending it with my husband and my daughter on a hike with our friends, I decided we needed to buy my son a twin mattress, a comforter and some sheets. And we needed to do this at IKEA on the busiest day of the week. He'd been sleeping on the floor in either his room or our room for the past six months and I just wanted him in his room. His toddler bed was too small and he didn't like sleeping in it anyway and since his sister is now sleeping through the night I just decided it was time. We talked about it and he was excited about his new mattress so we set out on what would turn out to be the worst day ever or at least since last Thursday when we flew home from Israel (a story for another time).

We arrived in good spirits. I found the comforter I wanted, he picked out the comforter cover and sheets, all we had to do was go upstairs to look at the bed, find out where to get it in the warehouse, buy it, and drive home.

Next to the stairs going up I ask my son if he wants to take the stairs or the elevator. Big mistake for we soon spiraled into an epic session of toddler remorse. He picked the elevator. So I get a cart to put our things in, put him in the cart and we take the elevator. We are not out of the elevator more than a minute when he starts to whine that he wanted to take the stairs. I have a "no re-do" policy now having suffered through months of toddler remorse tantrums so I try to redirect his desires. I spy a stuffed turtle. Do you want to hold tiny tim while we're in the store and then we'll take the stairs on the way down? He scoffs at the turtle idea. I point out the slide in the kids section, he forgets his troubles and goes to the slide. Tantrum averted.

After two slides we find his bed and he starts whimpering about wanting tiny tim. So we go back and get him, I take the stuff out of the cart so that we can take the stairs as promised, we get to the bottom and I put the stuff in a new cart. This is when the drawbridge comes down on the MOAT (Mother Of All Tantrums).

Him: I want the cart from upstairs
Me: Sweetie, we're not going upstairs to get our cart. All of these carts are the same.
Him: I want my cart from upstairs.
Me: But you said you wanted to take the stairs so we had to leave that cart upstairs. We'll just take another cart.
Him (sobbing): I want to go upstairs to get the cart!!!!!!!!!!
Me: Son, if you can't stop crying we are going to leave the store.
Him (shrieking): I want to go upstairs!!!!!!!!!!

So I pick him up and he's kicking and sobbing and shrieking so I have to hold him sideways with both hands like a ramming post and walk out of the store while he's screaming I want to buy my mattress. No mattress for you muchacho.

By this point I am livid because we have just wasted two hours, we have no mattress, my son is basically having a seizure over a shopping cart. So I throw him in the car and slam the door and get in on my side and turn on the car as if I'm about to drive even though his seat belt isn't on and he starts to FREAK OUT. I'm not safe! I'm not safe! which of course I know but I want him to feel extra bad for making me hate him. So I put the car back in park again and put on his seat belt and then I go into my quiet voice. I am not buying your mattress. I am never taking you to any store. You do not know how to behave. We are going home.

He's still begging for his mattress and in my head I'm thinking I really don't want to have to spend any more time at IKEA. I've already wasted one day of my weekend. So we drive to an empty part of the parking lot and stop and I wait until he stops crying. And finally we're at a point where we can talk about what all went down in the store. He promises to behave so I lay out exactly what our plan is when we go back in the store including an explanation of shopping carts and how they are ALL THE SAME (FUCKING) THING. He understands. By now it's lunchtime so the return visit also includes a stop at the cafeteria for some Swedish meatballs with lingonberry sauce (I love that stuff) and some macaroni and cheese for the kid. All is well again. We buy our items and he falls asleep in the cart. A wave of peace washes over IKEA.

But the IKEA incident doesn't end at IKEA. More later on inaugural night with the new mattress.