Ikea is a big box furniture retailer with three notable characteristics:
  • Their furniture is mostly sold in kit form, making it easy to transport.
  • If chosen carefully, you can put together some cool arrangements with their stuff.
  • They're cheap.

These attributes make the local Ikea a magnet for children moving out of their parent's house for the first time. A great number of these are in their late teens, just finished high school and going away to University.

That means that in August, Ikeas fill up with parents and kids preparing for the big move. Both sides, of course, have to be there. The offspring don't have the money to pay the bill at the end, and possibly no car to bring the stuff home in. The parents are well aware by this point that if they tried to pick anything on their own, it would be a dismal failure.

So, there they are. The parents are dealing with one of the last acts of active parenting they will do and the sense of loss that comes with it. The kids are starting to feel their own hard-fought independence and want to start exercising it. The obvious tension that springs from this is everywhere.

At the same time, it's an exciting moment in everyone's life. The parents are realizing that they didn't do so badly -- Junior made it through high school and is pursuing post-secondary education. The kids are realizing that they are finally grown ups and imagining the life ahead of them, all the hoping they'll be able to deal with it. The overall sense of joy mitigates the tension and fear.

So there, in its most concentrated form, is the full range of human emotion. Packaged and brought forward for all to see. It's not the kind of thing you get to take part in every day.

So, on a Saturday afternoon in August, head to an Ikea or whatever your local equivalent is. Think back to that time in your life and enjoy. It's enough to make you think the kids are alright.

... and pick up a thousand tea lights while you're there ... and maybe another CD rack; you'll probably need one of those too ...

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