It’s just a desk. A straight-f0rward design. It has a top and four legs…we skipped the drawer. We put together the drawer, but we ended up not installing it. Not that we wouldn’t have, but it was just too convoluted a process. Four legs, a surface, a frame to attach the legs to the surface…one and a half hours of our lives we’ll never get back, and we didn’t even get a drawer out of the process.
J thought this was hilarious. J always thinks that his parents (now with their glasses firmly planted on the bridges of their noses only to take them off in frustration seconds later) are hilarious when they put furniture together. He thinks our expletives are fantastic, and he giggles hysterically. Sometimes we get the impression that J thinks we buy ready-to-assemble furniture just to entertain him. He sees the words “some assembly required” on something I’m looking at when we’re shopping, and he starts to dance.
What does “some assembly required” mean? It means that aside from cutting down a tree, throwing chunks of it into a wood-chipper and then gluing the chips back together to make “wood,” you just have to follow 20 “simple” steps to get what you want out of the box. That you will feel outraged as you’re assembling the thing and disappointed when you’re done is par for the course…caveat emptor.
One and a half hours. Gone. Poof. Never to be returned to us. That chunk of time is now in the same league as watching Waterworld, taking J to the Albuquerque Zoo (don’t ask…the emotional wounds are still too recent,) and that perm my mom made me get in the Eighth grade. Last night’s assembling of the desk we got at IKEA left us wondering a) where all our tools have gone, b) if the Swedes have a secret vendetta against us, and c) if J observes us with the same keen interest we use in observing him. The fact that, after folding four loads of laundry and leaving to distribute them upstairs, J returned with the baskets in his hands and then stood there smiling at us with a look that said “aw, look at them! Aren’t they cute?” tells me he thinks we’re pretty amusing.
Our dining room table is solid wood. It has a solid top with the frame attached to the underside and four sizable legs that it took us ten minutes to attach. The table weighs enough that two people are required to move it; we can seat six people around it, and I can safely put heavy things on top without fearing it will collapse. This table cost less than $100.
Cut to my new desk. It weighs less than I’d like it to, especially since our not-inexpensive iMac sits on it; it is 1/4 the size of the dining table. NOTHING was pre-assembled; the hardware was all in a bag and unlabeled; the instructions were entirely pictorial. The last page should have a picture of the poor person(s) assembling the item sitting on the floor pouring a cocktail while counting extra hardware and parts that, regardless of what the booklet says, seem to fit nowhere.
As I type this, I am hoping to train our iMac to levitate because, if I am to be honest, I am not sure this desk is as sturdy as I would like. J, who sat on the couch and observed us for a while last night, couldn’t help making a face when he put his hand on the finished product and it made a faint creaking sound. He then proceeded to bend lightly to get a better look at the gaping hole where the drawer should be. I told him I was working on it…he didn’t believe me.
During J’s IEP last Friday we talked to his teacher and therapists about how he seems more present, keener, more involved and, much to our chagrin, definitely more “on to us” than before. We are, more and more, a source of amusement for him…he obviously knows that we don’t always know what we’re doing, and he enjoys having this knowledge. We heard from his Speech Therapist that J is quite skilled with an iPad, and we’re glad because we’ve been wanting to get one for him, but we’re also dreading the fact that we get frustrated by an iPod so we doubt we’ll be very helpful to him with the apparatus once it’s bought. While I tried to figure out the air-popper I’d bought for him last week, J simply plugged it in, put the corn kernels in, turned it on and brought a bowl for his popcorn…and I was only on page two of the instructions. He even went so far as to show me that I could put butter in a small bowl that came with the machine and melt it for buttered popcorn. I stood there staring slack-jawed, and J popped his corn, served it, salted it lightly (with sea salt, which left me even more slack-jawed,) switched the machine off and, with a hearty BYE, walked back to the basement to watch a movie.
More and more, things seems complicated to us, and J finds this to be tremendously funny. I wonder if our parents sit there waiting for a little bell to ring, announcing to them a moment when our children have bested us and, finally, the people we rolled our eyes at in our youth, can let out an evil cackle and slap their knees while rejoicing that we’re now “even.” It wouldn’t surprise me…most conversations start with “so…how are the boys????”
It not unusual these days to find J quietly watching me struggle with something I don’t understand. Yesterday morning, he offered to vacuum the carpeting in his room and, much to my surprise, had absolutely no qualms about plugging the vacuum cleaner in; our townhouse has those outlets with a built-in child protection device that makes it hard to plug appliances in, and I am continually gritting my teeth and going through a lot of trouble to get something to click into place. So I stood nearby, ready to jump in and assist J when he got frustrated while trying to plug the vacuum cleaner in…
J rolled up his sleeves quite casually; he adjusted the strap to his scrum cap and uncoiled the power cord. I was about to lean forward to show him where the power button was, but he had already found it. He leaned towards the wall and, without so much as the slightest effort, plugged into the outlet. Mother tried to interfere by showing where he had to step to release the handle and brush, but by then I was drowned out by the roar of the machine as J went back and forth, cleaning under tables, lifting the bedskirt so it wouldn’t get sucked into the machine…all around his room he went, leaving it clean as a whistle as he hummed to himself. Once he was done, J turned the machine off and unplugged it…easy as pie.
Then I said “well, J…the canister is full so I’m going to show you how to empty it. Watch closely!!!” I removed the canister (after struggling with the buttons until J told me which ones they were,) and walked with him to the trash can. “And we press here…” NO NO NO, J squealed and erupted into uncontrollable laughter as I stood there, my feet covered with the contents of the canister, as he went to get the dustpan.
The rest of the day, J would smile at me and pat my shoulder sympathetically. That we decided to do our Keystone Kops routine putting IKEA furniture together was just the icing on the cake for him. As he left this morning, I said “see you in the afternoon, J! I’ll be here pottering around waiting for you to come home!” He looked at me, smiled, looked around the kitchen-dining area and sighed…oh, he seemed to say, I hope you leave the really funny stuff for when I get home, lady.