Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Compliments With a Chance of Meatballs

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."

I guffawed.

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.


Annie said...

maybe i should try this tactic to get dan to go with me to ikea. or maybe not. he would skip over the cheap toys and compliments and head right for the cash!

Kellybee (my code name) said...

I LURRVED this post. I make my boys go to IKEA with me all the time. I also bribe.

buddens said...

This is hilarious - I love your writing!

Soul-Fusion said...

confession: I have never been to Ikea.
I love the compliments game, but it doesn't really work in solitaire mode so next time you want to go to Ikea, let me know and I will play compliments with you on the drive there.

Miranda said...

Ha! That is hilarious. Also, 'do compliments' how adorable!

Leslie said...

You are a fabulous mom, with fabulous hair, fabulous children, fabulous hubby, and fabulous blog!

Kami said...

Gooooo IKEA! (with a hurkey and a toe-touch)

I too love the meatballs. Maybe we can meet there next time you are here.

MiaKatia said...

I have never been to Ikea either. Are we still friends? So how long did you have to dish out the compliments before you called it quits. Actually sounds like a fun game!

Jesse C said...

What a great game. I want to play.

Tiffany is an incredibly talented and highly capable writer, cook, singer, and mom.

Ryan is hilarious and very caring.

Max has one of the most astonishingly creative minds I've ever come across.

Christian is very witty and easy to get along with.

alex dumas said...

Sven and Monika, eh? You're a dork. And that's probably why I like you.

Angie said...

Man kids are sneaky.

By the way, I've heard a lot about those meatballs and have never had them. Maybe one of these days...

Mindi said...

you just nailed why i love ikea on the head! it's because MINDI wants to be more european!!

my home is very traditional as well, so their style doesn't fit really that well--but, OH! WANDERING THOSE LARGE, CAVERNOUS WAREHOUSES!! it's simply a pull too great for any of us to resist.

ps LOVE the compliment game. gonna try to play it christian's way, though....genius.

Mindi said...

ps: one of the most creative descriptions i've read lately:

"and held me tight like a cast".

two thumbs UP.

Christy said...

I so get how you feel about IKEA, I don't really buy anything but kitchen gadgets there but the place makes me totally happy even though its so not my style.

- I like the chocolate cake

tiburon said...

Now I want meatballs. DAMN YOU!

And I would like to go to Ikea with you...

Omgirl said...

Oh, how I have missed you. I need to remind myself when I get overhwelmed with life, am 359 posts behind on my reader, and have the clock ticking on the weather while madly trying to finish painting my new shed that I should drop everything to at least read YOUR blog. It's so worth it. I can paint in 45 degree weather next week!

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