Ikea on a Saturday with Mary and James in tow was perhaps a mistake, but the kids needed new plastic dishes and we let our Amazon Prime lapse, so really I had no choice. When we arrived, there was fierce competition for parking spots and dozens of people walking up and down the aisles of the parking lot. I nearly gave up, but I had a plan and I was sticking to it.
The original plan was bulletin boards for Charlie and Wes's room and some shelving to go over their beds. But then that morning Ryan pulled yet another cracked kids' bowl out of the dishwasher and I'd told him "OH! I'll just pick up some more dishes while I'm at Ikea buying shelves!" Because when you almost never buy things, picking out new dishes is FUN. Guess what I didn't buy today--bulletin boards and shelves. Because by the time I got to that department I had lost the will to live.
Obstacle one on every trip to Ikea is getting the child-laden shopping cart up the gentle grade to the front door without the wind catching it wrong and sending it careening sideways across the parking lot into someone's house-sized Toyota Sequoia. Making matters significantly more complicated was the fact that Mary was in the Ergo and the wind was gusting over twenty five miles per hour. By the time we reached the door I felt like I'd done three hours of pilates and half of the Thirty Day Shred.
And you guys. I did not know this, but today was "Take Your Inconsiderate Slow-Walking Texting Oaf Relative to Ikea Day". Had I known, I would have let James out of the cart. And let him ram some people in the ankles with it.
Needless to say, after getting stuck MORE THAN ONCE behind whole families walking four abreast, taking up the entire aisle, eyes glued to their phones, I was kind of over it by the time I pushed my cart sideways (whyyyyyy?) through the "short cut" to the dishes department, but if I went home with no dishes then this entire slow meander through retail hell would have been for naught. Which is how I ended up picking out six sets of stoneware salad plates and bowls for the kids. Because the only plastic ones they had were those miniature colorful plastic five for two dollars ones everyone in the universe (including us) has. I like them for breakfast and lunch and sand toys, but for dinner I think they should have plates as close to normal as possible.
Mary started squawking somewhere around textiles and no amount of peppy talking and jiggling could make her stop. Things were bad by the time we got to the self-serve warehouse. And then we got in the longest line in the universe. Behind someone with an incredibly complicated looking closet organizing system comprising three hundred and fifty three individual pieces which had to be scanned individually.
Mary squawked. I bounced. I tried to talk to her soothingly. And then James piped up "I have to go potty."
I scanned the room in a panic, but there was no potty to be seen. He looked at me plaintively from the cart and repeated himself. "I haffa go potty." I replied in a stage whisper "We have to wait in this LINE and then I can take you to the POTTY!!" hoping someone would feel sorry for me, but no. I told James (while still bouncing Mary) "You need to try to hold it. Can you hold it? Can you be a really, really good big boy and not go potty right now? I will take you as soon as I can!"
We spent the rest of the time in line having the following conversation "I no go potty in my undies? I keep my undies dry? I a big boy? I no go potty here? I no go potty in the Ikea? I keep my undies dry?"
(bounce bounce bounce)
Finally, mercifully, it was our turn. The total was much higher than I expected, but I would have paid MORE money to not have to go back into that store at that particular moment. I think that is actually Ikea's business model, now that I think about it. I carefully reloaded the cart with my non-plastic children's tableware and ran off in the direction of the potty.
You'll never guess--there was a line for the bathroom. James continued with his dry pants affirmations and by some kind of miracle he was still dry by the time we got him to an actual toilet, approximately seven hours after the initial "I haffa go potty." I had Mary in the Ergo so I kind of awkwardly bent over sideways and pulled his pants down enough that he could go. When he was done I repeated the awkward side-bend squat maneuver and pulled his pants back up. I couldn't reach the snap, so I just pulled them up and hoped for the best. He washed his hands and we went back out to get the cart.
Having tasted freedom, James was loathe to get back in the cart and since I couldn't really pick him up with Mary in the Ergo I told him to hold the side of the cart and walk with me back to the car. But OH NO. He had to PUSH the freaking stupid Swedish devil cart ALL BY HIMSELF. I was not to touch the freaking cart or even glance in its direction. I let him do it all the way to the parking lot but then it was MY TURN. The wind, the hill, the sideways freaking wheels, the cars. It was just more than a three year old could handle. So I grabbed the front of the cart and pulled it along behind me. James was obediently hanging on to the side by one hand, but screaming all the way about how he wanted to push the cart ALONE I WANT TO PUSH THE CART ALONE! He was very clear on this point.
I was ignoring him but as we crossed the main aisle of the lot, the whining stopped and he started crying. Concerned, I stopped, ignoring the five cars that had stopped to let us pass who were still sitting there waiting.
He was wailing "Mama, WOOK! Mama, WOOK!"
He was standing in the middle of the road with his pants around his ankles.
His pants around his ankles and his cute little chubby legs and his little red Osh Kosh briefs.
Time stood still for a moment as I glanced from James to the drivers of the cars to Mary and then back to James. He was MAD. And HALF-NAKED. And INDIGNANT.
Stifling a laugh (made more difficult by the fact that EVERYONE in the cars was CRACKING UP), I grabbed a handful of fabric from his shirt and dragged him over to the median, dragging the cart behind me with the other hand, Mary swinging perilously from the Ergo, where I worked his pants back up and snapped the snap. And then we continued our walk to the car with him protesting about not being able to push the cart ALONE ALONE ALONE MAMA.
I have never been so happy to buckle a child into a carseat as I was this afternoon at Ikea.