One morning a few days back, Ella woke up early. Too early. I heard the soft ma-ma of her call piercing through my dreams, and I peeled myself from my bed and went to her. I groggily looked through her dim room and decided to climb into her cot, not just because I knew she’d get a kick out of it, but because I needed to keep being horizontal.
Before I climbed in, I saw her long legs jutting against the side rails and the lack of space on either side of her, and even though I squeezed myself in, I thought to myself that it was really time we got her a proper bed.
And so it happened that I was that crazy lady in IKEA on Tuesday, juggling two trolleys full of flat packs and IKEA merchandise I was convinced we needed to buy, all with a squirming baby on my hip and another one running off, believing that hiding in aisles of boxes in the self-service area was the best game ever invented. I assured her that it was not.
After making it to the car, sweating through the process of trying to get a mattress and the flatpacks on the roof racks, I realize the hockey straps I brought for this very reason were too short. It’s around this point my fuses start sparking, fired by my sudden anger and my loss at what to do. Ella, strapped into her car seat, whines to me that she wants to get out and I sigh with the deepest irritation and start blaming Joel for all this, because it was clearly very obviously his fault. A man with grey hair and tattoos all over his arms comes over to me. My arms start prickling, my shoulders draw back, already defensive about appearing like a damsel in distress; a silly, ditsy woman unable to think anything through. I smile graciously but I hate needing his help. He teaches me how to do a bow knot, “the only knot you’ll ever need to know, love”. I must have looked pissed because he tells me it could be worse, that at least it wasn’t raining, and that at least my kids weren’t crying. “It’s always the little things, love”, he says, and I realize three things.
First, that receiving help, like receiving compliments, is an art as much as it is a chance to be delivered life lessons.
Second, that by watching his precision and quiet pride, I was giving this man a gift. I was making this help-giver feel good about himself, giving him a sense of value, worthiness and that good-Samaritan feeling; all a welcome life-affirming buzz on an ordinary Tuesday afternoon in an IKEA parking lot.
Third, that it is always the little things. I know this, but I realized it then.
And so I said a silent thank you to kind people and bow knots and little things and drove all the way home at 10 km below the speed limit, “That way, love, people can overtake you and tell you as they pass if something doesn’t look right.”
Happy Friday, you guys.
I’ll just be here, loving on my little happy things, and practicing my bow knots.
“It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important.”
― Arthur Conan Doyle