Today we had that trip to Ikea, that trip to Ikea, where the child who has been stroppy and misbehaving all day ramps it up a notch and you find yourself - amid storage solutions - quietly hissing threats and consequences if attitudes don't improve but you know you're still a harridan really. Additionally it was also that trip to Ikea where your storage solution is discontinued in the colour you want as it matches the rest of your furniture and you are thrown and can't make an alternative decision, as finally in your head, you knew how to solve the Great Shoe Pile, but now you are thwarted. We decide to ponder our dilemma over meatballs, and weirdly it was also that trip to Ikea where child number 1 helps Daddy choose the free fruit for the little ones, only to select an apple - the only apple left - with a bite taken out a it. No quibbles in swapping it, and the apple basket replenished. It was also that trip where your two-year-old breaks free from Daddy's hand in an instant, and runs towards the lift, putting her hand on the door to steady herself so as to press the button to summon it, just as, still in that instant, Daddy shouts, "Fingers!" and whips her hand away, not before in that same instant the door has opened, swallowing her little fingers and bruising them and taking a small chunk out of a nail. Screams and shrieks, and all 6 of us piling in with the trolley, only for me to insist on First Aid, so we back out of the lift, still with much screaming. The Welcome Desk coworker doesn't know what to do. Ring someone please. We just need some ice or a cold pack ASAP. Eight minutes later a First Aider arrives. No cold pack. We send them to the restaurant kitchen. They have no ice they announce, with apologies. In the meantime another customer asks something and they leave us standing there while they serve her and answer her query about a chest of drawers. I order them to go and get at least a glass of cold water until a cold pack can be located. Fifteen to twenty minutes after the incident, which turned out not to be that serious, thankfully, a cold pack was located in the First Aid kit belonging to "Kitchens". I ask, "Shouldn't each one of your First Aid kits contain one? We just wanted to get something cold on her fingers straight away." "Oh yes they should, and they are restocked every night, but it's Half Term and we've had more children in than usual," replies the First Aider. They've been advertising extra Half Term activities for children, to bring more of them and their furniture-buying parents in, so they weren't unexpected. "There have been a lot of fingers trapped in lift doors lately. We've put warning signs on," says Mr Welcome Desk. "I'm afraid she's only two and can't read, and despite us being careful, she's too quick for us sometimes. We have been fearing those doors for long time." Hmm. It was that trip to Ikea where, unable to decide an alternative colour, we headed in desperation for the Bargain Corner and found one in our colour! But it was twice the size of the one we wanted! Twice the size! We mentally move furniture around and decide to buy it. It's huge, and already assembled, being ex-display. It's OK we are told, we can flat pack it quite easily, and have 24 hours to collect it from the Lock Up, so we will all go home and Daddy will come back With Tools later. A second trolley is found and we finally and precariously wend our way to the tills, only to be told the Lock Up is no longer in use following Manchester. Just that: Manchester. No explanation needed. We buy it anyway, as Daddy divulges that Mr Bargain Corner snuck him an allen key, so armed with the essential contraband, he thinks he can do it. Tired kids in the car. Mummy and Daddy disassembling a larger than expected Kallax on the car park floor, with much pulling and shoving of planks and dowels required, without scratching the veneer on the rough concrete. We are racing against time: Ikea closing time and Ring Road closing for Motofest time. Bit by bit goes in. But not all of it. "Erm Mummy, I think you might be walking home." I look outside to the torrential rain that has taken coatless, be-sandalled me by surprise after the last few glorious days and evenings. But in the end, he dashes home, unloads the planks belted into my seat, runs in with a small child ("I need a wee!"), straps her back in and comes back for me.
I had no phone on me, unusually. I had to sit on a toadstall-shaped bollard next to the open doorway, waiting, not browsing or Matching Three. I listened to the two-tone rain, the constant rice-in-a-rain-maker background to the heavier drips and splashes, and thought that it sounded like the foleyed in rain in films, but that, hang on, I was listening to the real thing and the films were merely a mirror. I breathed. I smiled at passers-by, some laughing at the rain, most steeling themselves in it, all rushing. I remembered the kind lady who had lent me her charger in the restaurant so I could (unsuccessfully as it turned out) charge my phone, and her beautiful little daughters. I wrapped my cardi around me a little tighter against the cold, and wondered where Coventry's homeless would be right then, trying to shelter from the rain. I wondered if the drastic and recent increase in the numbers sleeping rough in Coventry would continue, or if Something Would Be Done. I tried NOT to think about the election. And then I saw them come round the bend for me. I was thankful to have someone to come back for me and also that it took no time at all. (Five minutes fewer than it takes to get an ice pack in Ikea, actually.) And thankful to have a few minutes alone. It was that trip to Ikea, but it was timely. And our race against time? We made it, back home to the mess and the sodden laundry on the line and the hundreds of tongue depressers all over the floor (from some long forgotten project and whose sole existence in our home is as a means for small children to torture me by chucking them about) and the Kallax in bits and the sandpit sand on the kitchen floor and decided it'll all keep till the morning.
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