Friday, July 22, 2011
As I mentioned in my last post, we went to visit friends in the Chicago area last weekend. While we were there, we went to Ikea in one of the suburbs. For those of you not familiar with this store, it is a three-floor wonderland of practical, inexpensive Swedish housewares. Because I am cheap, married to a man of Swedish descent, and interested in clean lines, I like to think this is really my kind of store.
Usually I try to make the biannual Ikea trip a childless one, because this just makes the whole thing go faster (and those who have shopped for anything with me know that including any form of the word “fast” is laughable to begin with). This year, though, my friend Melanie mentioned that they have a really fantastic play area at this particular branch, and that you can leave your child there with attendants for an hour. Combined with the cheap kids' meals in the in-store cafe, this was enough to convince us to bring Eva and Melanie's kids Aidan and Catie with us.
When we got there, we waited in line to check in at the (objectively super-cool) play area and talked about all the fun things we could see there would be for her to do. While we stood there I reminded Eva to be sure to tell the lady if she needed to go to the bathroom, since she is occasionally too shy to ask strangers in time. I'm not sure whether it was because she overheard this exchange, or because she is truly a lazy child-hater, but when we got to the front, the exchange with the childcare worker went like this:
“Yeah, she needs to be fully potty-trained to come in here.”
“Yep! No problem.”
“Right. We're good.”
“She seems a little short. She needs to be 37 inches to be allowed in. I'd better measure her.”
“Oh, okay. I think she's right about 37 inches, actually.”
The worker and I lined her up next to the ruler, and she was 37 inches on the dot.
“Actually, she's pretty close. I don't think she makes it.”
Pointing at the ruler, and demonstrating her 37-inch height, “No, she clearly does.”
“Actually, that 37 inches is supposed to be without shoes. I think you need to take her shoes off so we can measure her again.”
Without shoes Eva is still about 37 inches if she tilts her head just right, but if not is about 36 and 7/8 inches.
“Yeah, I'm going to have to call my manager over here to look at this.... Hey, can you come here for a minute? This little girl is too short, and I just want to make sure.”
“Yes, I'm sorry. She is too short to play here.”
“Wait a second. She's right on the line. She's fully potty-trained and is mature and independent. She'd have her two older friends with her. Can't you just let her in?"
"No, Ma'am. There are regulations put forth by our insurance company for her safety. That ball pit, for instance, is really deep."
Let me just stop here to point out that she ACTUALLY used drowning in a ball pit due to a 1/8-inch height shortage as her excuse to exclude my now-teary child from the visibly awesome play area. It was everything I could do to avoid making a very rude comment as we took Eva and walked away. If I thought sarcasm would in any way improve her chances of getting in or be any kind of good example, I would have really gotten on a roll. Instead, I bit my lip and let Eva pick a pity toy from the stuffed animal bin in the kids' furniture section.
The next day we all took the train downtown, where we took our collected four kids to the Chicago Children's Museum. The first activity that we came to was a rope tunnel leading up from the first floor to the second, then across the stairwell to a bridge on the other side. There was a sign that indicated the activity was for children five and up, but that younger kids would be allowed at their caregiver's discretion. Everyone wanted to go, and I hesitated for a second, worrying that it was very high and maybe Eva was just too little. But Kyle said he thought we should let her try, and of course she booked it right up that tunnel, pushing Daniel to move it along a little faster because he was holding her up. I have to admit I cried a little as she pulled herself out the top.
Man, I love that kid.