Yesterday I ran away from my computer. I have to do that sometimes when I fear we are becoming co-dependent. The kids were out of school for an inservice day and the sun was shining, so I gave my computer the cold shoulder and put the kids in the car to run away.
"Where are we going?" they asked from the back seat.
"Somewhere fabulous!" I said.
"Like, where?" they asked with thick skepticism.
"IKEA!" I said with all the enthusiasm of a varsity cheerleader.
The noise from the backseat was a mix between a dying cat and a weary woman in her 73rd hour of labor.
"Oh, come on," I said, "we'll have meatballs. It will be great."
Within a few minutes, we'd struck a somewhat regular deal: if they were patient and long suffering while I shopped, I would take them to their favorite bargain store on the way home for a cheap toy. That's right, I bribe them to shop with me. Don't judge. My diplomatic skills are enviable.
Why was I headed to IKEA? I can't say what the lure is, exactly. I have a very traditional-style home and no need for furniture, but there's something about IKEA that I find very.....alluring. I walk around the showrooms and feel inspired to be more.....I don't know, European? I like walking through the swanky imaginary living rooms and kitchens where my imaginary Swedish friends Sven and Monika live. I ring their imaginary DUURBEL and ask to borrow a cup of SHOOGHRE. And while Sven is off in the kitchen, Monika and I tell each other witty GJOHKKS and compliment each other's SKAARVZ.
IKEA makes me feel bilingual. Plus, I love those meatballs.
The drive took a while and when the sixth indie-folk song played on the stereo, Max made a suggestion from the backseat.
"Let's do compulments instead of listening to music," he said.
"OK, we'll do compliments," I said, turning the music off.
We do on-demand compliment-fests from time to time in our family. It's very a very warm-and-fuzzy activity and the place I first learned that I was considered a "fashionist" by Max, which I believe is a fashionable pacifist. Which is pretty much what I am.
"You go first, Mom." Max said.
"OK, Max," I said, "I like the way you build aircraft carriers out of paper."
"Thanks," he said.
"And, Christian, I like the way that you get up every morning with no complaint. I admire that."
"Um, thanks," said Christian with one headphone in his ear.
"OK, Christian," said Max, "it's your turn to give compulments."
"Um, I don't think I want to play," said Christian as he put both headphones in his ears. Then he pulled one out and said, "Actually, I'll play but I don't want to give any compliments. I just want to get them."
Ever accommodating, Max agreed to this and gave us each a compliment. I followed his be-the-bigger-man lead and gave them each another compliment. Max took a turn and then must have run out of ideas because he announced that he'd probably prefer to just receive compliments and not give any more.
I guffawed again, but I guess they thought I was coughing.
Suddenly, it became very clear what was happening. They had the upper hand and they knew it. I was a victim of extortion. First, they wanted cheap toys and now they wanted unlimited compliments, and they knew that I would oblige because I really wanted to go to IKEA and wander the showrooms and eat meatballs with gravy and jam! What was next, I wondered? Cash?
As Sven and Monika would say, I was totally SKKRWD.