My latest Viva Brighton column is all about a recent trip to Ikea Croydon.
I’m in Croydon Ikea. My three-year-old daughter and I have made it to the self-serve area without peeing on the floor, eating meatballs, or having a row with a woman in ‘Fabrics’ who said crossly “oh, go that way then” after I edged our trolley backwards to make room for her. “I thought she would go that way, but she went the other way,” I heard her tell her mother. Gees. Life certainly throws up some unexpected twists and turns.
Anyway, we’ve made it to the self-serve area. I’m feeling content about the fact I’m buying storage boxes and, after approximately three hours, my daughter is exhibiting signs of adjustment. She busies herself finding a small chair for her and Mouse to sit on and a large chair for Panda and me. I try to edge things along gently with a new game called “Find Number 41” when a woman passes saying she has been playing the same game for as many minutes. We chuckle, and make some progress up the aisle when I hear a small voice from behind me saying: “I can’t stop!”
I turn to see a couple approaching us with a trolley each. I think they’re enjoying a joke between the two of them but then the woman says more loudly, “I can’t stop!” By this time the pair are much closer than before, still just far enough away not to trigger panic. I look at my daughter who is about a metre away and as the couple get uncomfortably close they take a hairpin turn down A36 exclaiming: “This is not a children’s day out.”
There. I’m casually going about my business on the last day of the Easter holidays, buying containers for my child’s crayons and boom: the voice of judgement is upon me. This is not a children’s day out.
How dare I exhibit such neglectful parenting as to subject a preschooler to a day at Ikea? Now, the anti-capitalist in me sees truth in this but I would put money on it that woman was not referring to the dangers posed by the systemic corporatisation of childhood. Neither was she talking about the lack of creative learning possibilities on a trip to a megastore. If she was, I could argue the toss. What she meant was “get out of my way. With your idling small child you’re slowing me the fuck down.” I imagine if that woman and her renegade trolley had careered headlong into my toddler, it would be my fault entirely, simply for having her present.
Has road rage become so prevalent, you needn’t be on the road to experience it? I read a Pacific Standard article citing a Harvard School of Public Health study on road rage. It says road rage is in some way a territorial response conditioned by the psychological effect of a car being “‘like a second home,’ almost an extension of the driver’s person.” I guess it could similarly be the flipside of the illusion of comfort those Ikea gods work so hard to create.
This article was first published in Viva Brighton 27, May 2015. Read online here.