There are a lot of things that kids need and even more things that they eventually want. With a seven year-old daughter and twin toddlers, we’ve spent plenty on clothes, toys, games, and educational diversions. We also received a tremendous amount of love and support from friends and family in the way of baby gear and hand-me-downs. There are plenty of things that I highly recommend for a family with small children (a Baby Ergo and a good nanny come to mind), but the best money I’ve spent lately was on an IKEA purchase I bought on a whim, a well-used slide.
When IKEA remodeled their Wangjing store last year, much of the children’s items ended up in their discounted section, including the showroom slide. This thing must be built like a tank because it looked like it had been through war. The red slide was streaked with scuff marks from thousands of tiny shoes and the sides were discolored where countless tiny hands had sought purchase as they scaled the slide while their parents looked on or slept on a display sofa. Even though it looked worn, the unit itself was in solid shape. I figured if it could take the pounding that a daily herd of shoppers heaped upon it, the thing would hold up well against our brood. Best of all, it was discounted 60%. To be honest, I felt a further discount was in order, but I shelled out my RMB 400 anyway.
For the first few months, the slide hardly got any use, but once the boys hit about 15 months, they and their friends began to use it in earnest. Today, the slide probably gets used at least an hour a day as a fort, slide, or place to play peak-a-boo. Even their sister and her friends join the little ones on the slide and the occasional adult has been known to relive childhood on it too (guilty).
In retrospect, I should have purchased one of these years ago for our daughter, even at the full RMB 1,000 sticker price. The slide is sturdy, looks good, and will last well beyond our needs when we pass it along to another family. Recently, I saw a pristine looking one at Roundabout for RMB 400. The thing looked unused, but I wouldn’t trade our battered slide for that one. Sure, it looked good, but ours came with history. I cannot fathom how many children sought refuge from a boring shopping trip on our slide as a smile crossed their faces, their butts scooted towards the earth, and they shouted out Wheeee. That’s my kind of slide.
Photo by Christopher Lay.