The Chair Story

So E’s parents had seen our house and they were excited to buy something for it, for E’s birthday, which is coming later this month. They had obviously discussed it at great length, by themselves, because when they came in almost two-and-a-half hours late, the conversation went like this:

E’s Mom: We’re going to buy you a chair. For right there. (Points at space beside fridge where a large, living-room-style chair would necessitate our sidling through a gap into the kitchen)

Me: But we have a chair for right there. It’s in the bedroom. It does double duty! (Goes out and returns with small, light armchair) See? Have a seat!

E’s Mom: But wouldn’t you like a chair there so that one didn’t have to do double duty?

Me: Our place is kind of small. We don’t have a lot of room, so lots of our stuff does double duty.

His parents are utterly derailed. In their minds, the Chair for There was a fait accompli.

E’s on the couch beside me, arms crossed, trying to figure out a way to make this work so his parents feel good and we don’t have unwanted stuff in our home. I know he is thinking fleetingly that we still need a coffee table, but also knows that his mother’s and my tastes only intersect in certain specific ways, so that’s way out.

E’s Dad: Well, what about…a mat for…the door here, or an area rug?

E: Baxter moves all the rugs we put in front of the door. We’re looking for one that has a good backing so we can put double-sided tape on it.

Me: Actually, I’ve already vetoed an area rug, because I’m the one who does the vacuuming. (I smile, but later E tells me I am shaking I am so vehemently anti-rug. Who knew!)

E’s Mom: Well, is there…something…? (She looks around, at a loss)

E: Well, if you wanted to do the chair thing, I would like a chair for my desk and computer area. The one that’s there right now is more of a dining room chair and I’d like an office style one.

E’s Mom: Well. If you’d like that….(She is obviously dubious.)

E’s Dad: I think we could find that.

So they all troop off and find a great chair for E’s room, and I’m spared a 12-square-foot La-Z-Boy! Hooray!

I really hope I didn’t come across as rude or ungrateful. It’s the difference in worldviews that trips us up every time. They wanted to give us something that would make our home more comfortable, in their eyes. A big, comfy chair would have fit the bill. Except that it would, in fact, have made our 800 square feet less habitable. That’s hard to fathom, though, if you don’t live in small quarters.

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