Last week I made the rather foolish decision that a trip to Ikea with a growing bump and active three and a half year old would be a good idea. We needed, amongst other things, doors for the new baby’s wardrobe….bought a few years ago when we were expecting and stashed in the loft when things didn’t go to plan. The wardrobe has now been brought down in preparation of the big day but sans a door (we nicked it to fill a gap between the wall and unit in our bedroom) and, even more annoyingly (as a door could be feasibly be bought online) without its adjustable feet. Getting these would require negotiation with a blue overalled sales person. A chat I was particularly looking forward to having…
The trip started well, with O and I consuming our obligatory school-dinner-esque fish and chips (why does something so wrong taste so right?) before moving on to a slice of plastic pudding (me) and luminous jelly (O). Feeling suitably malnourished we were ready to commence. O obligingly climbed aboard the trolley …and we we were off….
We began by weaving our way through the showroom, always a dangerous thing to do as whilst ‘all-over Ikea’ will never be me, somehow I still become tempted to shop the entire look. Even the 25 square metre example-homes have me wishing I had one of my own …..and this day was no different. Standing stock still, O begging to be freed of the trolley constricting his adventuring, I contemplated whether Ikeas clever use of space might help me with my ongoing conundrum of how to re-figure O’s bedroom to accommodate his brother/sister. Dividers were my conclusion….storage had been used cleverly to partition off varying sections of the mini-apartment …..so I pushed on wondering if I too could get a bit more creative with my thinking …
As we walked O’s demands to be set free so he could ‘sleep in the beds’ grew ever louder. Relenting, finally, in the childrens section he swiftly clambered into a bottom bunk, complete with castle-style shuttered windows. Whilst he combined play-sleep with throwing open his fort to the imaginary morning sunshine, I hovered nearby considering possible arts and craft storage solutions. Meanwhile numerous couples executed a double-take as they realised the bunks must come with the inclusion of a slumbering child within the purchase price.
Eventually I negotiated the continuation of our journey in return for a session in the play area afterwards and went to seek out the wardrobe department.
“I’m wanting to buy a pair of doors for a PAX wardrobe” I said to a thin lipped assistant.
“No problem” he replied simply “just pick up your doors in the warehouse and take them to the cash till.”
I glanced at my laden trolley beyond my swollen bump and wondered quite how I was going to manage a manoeuvre of that ilk with a pair of two-and-a-half metre long doors. Figuring I’d cross that bridge when I came to it I turned back to him with my all-important question.
“We appear to have lost the feet. Can I buy more?”
“No” he answered simply “but you could do one of two things. Ask at the Bargain Corner. They might have some. Or alternatively Customer Services.”
Nodding meekly we pressed on towards the warehouse, stopping only long enough to pick up some gilded frames destined for the wallpapered lounge wall …..and, of course…. the obligatory tea lights.
Down in the warehouse, precariously negotiating two trolleys….one already heavily laden with child and purchases….I drew up to Aisle 37.
“Can you help me please?” I begged another overalled assistant.
There was an audible “humpf” but begrudgingly he obliged and minutes later I was staring down at a conundrum.
How to manage this lot?
“Come on poppet, I think you might need to walk” I said to O. He of course was delighted but, having been cooped up in a cage-on-wheels for the best part of an hour, had decided that walking was most definitely not what he had in mind. Whilst I attempted to pile a slippery mound of throws and frames precariously atop the wardrobe doors he set about weaving his way around aisles, charging into forklifts and tripping up anything on two legs. Eventually, promise of play area retracted unless walking could be adopted, we made our tentative journey to the cash till, stopping frequently to retrieve rolls of grey throws along the way (my jubilant solution to the blue snug sofa which at a fiver a throw is waaaay cheaper than the caramel leather of which I’ve oft dreamed…).
All paid up we then ventured onwards to Delivery.
“Hi” I said exhaustedly, parking the god-forsaken trolley and approaching the desk.
“Can you, like, tidy your trolley up a bit?’ said the assistant in welcome, glancing up momentarily from her screen.
My eyebrows raised, perplexed.
“How do you mean?”
“Well, like, can you not, like, put it like the others?”
I glanced at the varying trolleys parked around me, their contents awaiting the packing and loading onto some sort of system ready for delivery. Then I glanced at mine, ever so slightly at my side.
“I just wanted to ask a question” I said finally.
Meanwhile O was balancing on the arm of a nearby sofa.
“Look at me mummy!” He called “Looooook!”
“Yes, come down from there. Right. Well. Tidy like this?” I re angled the trolley by about 22 degrees. “Better?”
Shrugging she turned to face her computer. “Fill this in.” she demanded, pushing a blank white sticker at me.
I stared at the sticker.
“With your name and address.”
Obligingly I did so.
“It’s just the wardrobe and maybe that storage unit I want delivered.” I said. “The rest I’ll take with me.”
“Between 7am and 1pm tomorrow” she said, eyes affixed firmly to her screen.
“I’m working tomorrow. Can we do Wednesday?” I asked.
“Next day only.” came the curt reply.
I stared exasperated at the doors wondering if I had the energy to push the lot back to customer returns and head home empty handed.
“I’ll see what I can do.” I said with a sigh, “Book it.”
“Let’s face it, you only need someone to wait in from between 7 and 1” she replied with a shrug as if magicking a neighbour from cloud dust to sit in my house for half a day was a feasible thing to accomplish.
“Yes.” I agreed reluctantly. “Fine.”
Relieved, finally, of the doors we then sat on one of the climbing-frame-come-sofas to wait for the kind attention of yet another overalled assistant. Half an hour later we were called.
“I need to get some feet for a PAX wardrobe” I explained “we bought one a while back and don’t appear to have the feet.”
“They are in the bag with the fixings.” replied the lady with a cocked eyebrow. “Do you have the fixings?”
“Er..l’m not sure” I admitted truthfully. ‘My husband just said we needed the feet….”
“Well how does he know the feet are missing?” she questioned. “If he’s started putting it up he would know…”
“He hasn’t started putting it up” I felt the hot sting of frustrated tears prick my eyes. “Honestly I really don’t know. It’s just he said…..”
“Well can you phone him?” she cut in impatiently.
“Er yes, good idea”
Rummaging in my bag for my phone I glanced over at O now balancing precariously on one leg astride the sofa arm. At least he’s occupied I thought resignedly, ignoring the disgusted glances of other waiting customers clearly making judgement on my lack of parental discipline.
Pressing the phone to my ear S’s voicemail chopped in.
“I’m not here right now, please leave a message”
Almost as soon as I hung up a text pinged through.
“Pet, can I call you later?” it asked,
“Please. Call. Now”
I pressed send before thinking it might be wise to explain the situation further. As my thumb jabbed at the keys my phone buzzed.
“Do we have the wardrobe fixings or do we just need the feet?” I blurted.
“What?” There was a stunned pause. “Right. Just for future reference, you are seven months pregnant and when you say ‘call me now’ I think…..”
My ear had hit loudspeaker and S’s reprimand was bring heard by all who cared to listen, one blue and yellow coloured computer-tapper in particular.
Blindly I jabbed at the phone in an attempt to silence it before finally interrupting….
“I’ve been here half an hour, O’s at the end of his tether….so am I, please…….have we got fixings?”
“No.” Came the reply. “I don’t think so.”
I turned to the lady.
“He doesn’t think so.”
Disappearing for no more than point eight of a second she returned bearing a bag.
“Here you are.” she sang.
Resisting the urge to ask just why that had been so difficult I smiled thinly and, having cajoled O to his feet from where he now lay sprawled on the floor, collected my trolley and made my weary way to the car.
“Fancy the play area?” I asked him.
“Yes!!!” He cried.
“I think we’ve earnt it” I said with a tired sigh.
The play area it turns out, is a crèche…. and an empty one at that. But before we had time to reconsider O was labelled and pushed gently into its cavernous midst whilst I was banished outside. Silently I watched from the window as my son, confused and disorientated, pigeon stepped his way tentatively around scary new territory. Having attempted to scale a short wall to reach the ball pool, devoid of any playmates, and been told abruptly by yet another unfriendly blue overall wearing attendant that he wasn’t allowed to do so, he stood stock still, fingers in mouth and chewed.
“Get him out of there” I demanded, trying and failing to reach across the cavernous divide between me and the misery masquerading as fun.
“Oh. Ok.” The assistant looked taken aback. “Right. Well. You need to sign him out.”
With no word of comfort to the terrified little boy who couldn’t quite fathom why his mummy had suddenly abandoned him alone in a strange new world, the crèche assistant set about freeing him from the complex tagging he had been adorned with. Finally he was allowed back through the gate and into my arms, face beginning to crumple.
“Why did you go to work mummy?” He asked in a small hurt voice, tears squeezing reluctantly from the corners of his eyes.
“Oh baby…I wasn’t working. They wouldn’t let mummy in…..but you were very brave in there all alone. It wasn’t very nice was it?” and wiping his stoic little face we made our way to the car.
“It isn’t much fun going shopping with mummy is it?” I said eventually, once we’d both recovered from the ordeal and were snaking our way home in the rush hour traffic.
“It’s not much fun going to play areas” came a humphed reply.
Then two tired little eyes closed against the day….