To be honest, I’ve never been a devout fan of worshiping at the mother church of cheap Scandinavian design. Yes, it’s handy to find just about anything you might need under one roof, especially when you’re either short of time or money, or both.
But the experience of going to Ikea is normally not my idea of fun. Therefore even the mere thought of doing it with two toddlers in tow should have been pretty much my idea of hell. To my surprise, it was actually the most fun I’ve ever had walking through the mighty doors of the blue and yellow emporium.
As we were cuddled up in bed later that evening, Rob asked me how Lilly was that day. I thought about it for a while before replying:
Well, she was Lilly, in all of her many facets.
I had a broken picture frame to return, so our first port of call was taking a ticket at the downstairs customer service area. In my limited experience, all Ikeas pretty much have the same layout. This means that once liberated from her buggy, little miss had free range to roam, and a fervent desire to exercise that option. Exiting back out into the parking lot as well as venturing past the tills and straight into the store were her first ports of call. Basically anywhere the opposite direction of where I might have wanted her to be held a magnetic pull of attraction.
Cue mean mommy standing in her way, or worse, interfering with the stunt of throwing herself down the escalator, and her displeasure was quickly voiced with a series of all-out-flailing-on-the-floor tantrums. Lilly does not enjoy having her free will curbed in any way.
Matters vastly improved with the goodwill gesture of food, alleviating the unmistakable first signs of a pre-lunch serotonin crash (basically, to quote the link, ‘when serotonin levels are low, we’re more depressed, and when they’re high, we’re happier’). An empty stomach does not a happy toddler make. Thus fortified, we proceeded in peace, albeit at a snail’s pace, through the various display areas in search of the children’s section.
Our progress was undeniably similar to how people often describe success:
There was lots of toing-and-froing, exploring, admiring one’s small self in mirrors, dashing into crevices and charming other shoppers with a hugely excited ‘I am ever so pleased with myself’ grin. Her ultimate triumph was to hide between two closets, proudly shouting ‘Boo!’ (or ‘Baa!’ in Lilly’s world) when discovered.
Once we made it into the mecca of Children’s Ikea, there was more exploring (duh!), kitchen playing, rocking horse, or, to be accurate, rocking moose riding, running around, pushing chairs and dancing on tables (a move that significantly diminished in cuteness when replicated at home).
If you can brave it, the children’s section of Ikea is actually a great place to spend a few hours with your kids, although you’d better keep an eye on your wallet with the same resolve as you do on your offspring, or its contents are likely to disappear faster than a toddler in the toy section. I mean, really, Lilly can’t possibly survive another day without a workbench to play with, right?
I experienced all of Lilly that day, as I do most other days. I had curious, inquisitive, strong-willed, free-spirited, funny, playful, outraged, loving, compassionate, adventurous, I-can’t-stand-for-the-utter-injustice-of-being-put-back-into-my-buggy. I had sleepy cuddles, and mischievous chasing-Jack-with-anything-that-has-wheels. I had utter delight and bottomless despair (well, for a few minutes, anyway).
And I love Lilly for all of who she is. She amazes and exhausts me in equal measures. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Images: ivychild.org outlawnorth.com ecouterre.com images.ikea.com