Are you gonna stay with me?
As we near the end of the school summer holidays, Joseph and I had our last full day of each other’s company yesterday and, to cut a long story short, he wanted to go to Ikea (no, seriously), to play in the children’s ‘soft play’ area.
So we went.
It was full, there was a waiting time of half an hour but we were in no rush so we both settled down to watch Rugrats: The Movie until it was our turn.
(I can honestly say that I have no clue what Rugrats is all about by the way!)
When it was his turn to go in, we went over and I told him that I wasn’t allowed to go in and that if there was any problems, to tell the staff and they would call me on the tannoy and I would come and get him.
He was guided in by a lady who explained all the things there was to do and as he gave me an unsure look over his shoulder, I realised what conflicting demands we make of children. On the one hand we say, “don’t talk to so and so, don’t go off with strangers” etc, and here I am waving him away from me, to go somewhere new with someone he OR I have never met before. His slight hesitation told me I should probably hang around.
But I didn’t.
And so, I found myself taking a very leisurely stroll around Ikea – a shop I genuinely enjoy looking round but it is usually too stressful – but basically killing the designated hour until I was to collect Joseph.
I made it back there with about 5 minutes to spare and fully expected to see him clambering over something (or someone) and I would have to get the staff to drag him out.
As I turned the corner, he was leaning on the counter, all alone, looking forlorn, lost and sad. I got within earshot and heard one of the staff members say to him, “come on Joseph, why don’t you come and do some colouring?”
He turned and sat down but I could tell he wasn’t happy.
I called him, he saw me and he came running, jumping up into my arms and burying his head in my shoulder. It turns out he had wanted me to go in with him or at the very least, stay and watch while he ran around.
He was a bit quiet after that.
Right up to the point where we got ice cream!
I don’t know if you’ve been to Ikea or not, but you buy an empty ice cream cone and take it to a machine (which has been mentioned on these pages before), place it in the slot and press your choice of ice cream and sauce. You then watch as your cone disappears and then re-appears with your request.
Bloody nice ice cream too!
Good work ice cream machine making people.