When Sarge and I first married, I was fresh out of college and he was enlisted in the Navy. Neither of us had ever had a place of our own and everything we owned fit into the back of his pickup truck.
We started out with a table that had been left in one of the dorm rooms I lived in and four folding chairs (with cushions! living large!) that I'd borrowed from a roommate. We spent our wedding gift money on two couches and dressers from IKEA. We had a TV Sarge owned and an entertainment center someone had given him. We thought we were living pretty well.
Finally, my roommate needed her chairs back, and we were going to have to do something. So we sucked it up and bought the table of my dreams. It was very 1996, light wood farmhouse table - we only just barely didn't buy the one with tiletop. All you people who bought a kitchen table in the late nineties know what I'm talking about. It was rectangular, and I insisted on six chairs, even though it was just the two of us. "Company," I explained to Sarge, terrified of having one child, much less four, "and we need a computer chair, don't we?" So we purchased six chairs and the table of my twenty-year-old dreams.
And we threw it all in the back of the pickup truck. Table on the bottom and three boxes of chairs on top. And flew home down I-95 in Maryland back to the Army base. I kept looking back at our big boxes, so excited about our new purchases. But the strangest thing was happening. People suddenly started waving at us and making gestures like something was wrong. And it was.
One of my precious boxes had flown out of the back of the truck, smashing two chairs all over I-95.
Sarge wanted to keep going -- there was nothing that we could do about it. But I needed to go back, make sure that no one was hurt and that my chairs weren't miraculously salvageable. Being a very smart newlywed, he went back. And he was right - there were chairs parts all over the road and the police were already blocking the road. And we turned around again, with only four chairs in the back of our truck, and a crying wife.
I never was able to justify purchasing two more chairs - we already had more than we really needed, and we didn't have another $100 to spend on more chairs. Until we found out that our family wasn't going to fit in those four chairs, seven years later. By then it was too late to find a matching chair.
I had time, I told myself, the baby won't need a chair for a while. I'll find a cool chair that doesn't match. Or I'll buy a bunch of chairs that don't match. We don't want him to feel like an "extra." But for the time being, we put one of our folding chairs (no cushions, too cheap) at the table.
But something magical happened. The children began to fight over the "Ding Ding Chair." Apparently you could hit it with your fork while you eat and really make your mom annoyed. But it makes the coolest sound! And it wasn't the extra chair anymore - it was the special chair.
And so, the baby is way past four years old, and I never have dealt with the chair issue. I'm not sure that I will.