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Kerry Lyons Headshot

Bunk Bed Blues

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Dear Ikea,

I just wanted to thank you for hijacking our weekend and providing my husband and I with a few hundred more grey hairs. As working parents of five children, we were truly delighted to dedicate our weekend to bunk bed assembly, rather than enjoying quality time together as a family. We were especially thrilled that as the moon rose on Sunday evening, the bunk beds still lay strewn in pieces and we had to farm out our triplets to other rooms of the house in sleeping bags. Do have any idea what kind of disappointment this is to our trio of 4-year olds? Or what that disappointment sounds like? Imagine heartbroken wails, whines and tears; a symphony of agony as our little fellas faced the dark alone on the floor rather than snuggled together in the "big boy beds" they so eagerly and patiently anticipated.

With all of this in mind, we'd like to take this opportunity to applaud you for astutely recognizing that most bunk bed consumers have large families and busy lives and, as such, the luxury of time to labor feverishly over the fourteen thousand pieces you so thoughtfully provided for building the beds. We especially appreciate the effort you put into creating the user-friendly, simple and intuitive assembly manual. When we saw the first page -- the one with an X through one stick figure and circle around two stick figures -- we gave each other a big hug and jumped right in, knowing from the sweet diagram that this was a job for two people in love. When darkness fell and we were still surrounded by bits of wood and bags of bolts, we swore and snarled at each other and considered burning your manual, having learned from a grueling day that it is woefully deceptive. Building a bunk bed is not a job for team of two, but rather, for a group of at least three, each of whom, ideally, has an engineering degree. Next time you update the manual, please consider adding a third stick figure (at a minimum) and a diploma to the diagram; this will save other harried time-pressed parents from the frustration and short-term harm our marriage experienced today.

As dusk began to fall, we recognized we needed that third set of hands and called in my Dad in to help. He was impressed by how you cleverly numbered the wooden dowels, screws and other assorted pieces pictured in the manual; he was far less impressed when he, as we had, searched for the corresponding numbers on the dowels and screws themselves and realized they did not exist. That was a mean trick. It literally drove my father to drink. And, not wanting to see a grown man drink alone, we joined him. Needless to say, this didn't make the assembly any easier. What would make it easier would be if you could separate the thousands of pieces and place them in numbered bags that correspond to the numbers in your maddening manual. Perhaps you were being environmentally conscious by putting approximately 14,462 pieces into one large bag rather than several small ones? Perhaps you thought it would be fun for parents under pressure to build a bed before sundown to revisit the puzzle-solving joy of their youth? Whatever your intentions, they were wrong. We suggest you buy the baggies, number the parts and save the sanity of parents the world over who, like us, have been wooed by your Swedish design and undeniable affordability.

As for us, three weeks have passed since I first started this note of gratitude. Though we purchased two sets of bunks, we've only built one. It took roughly eighteen hours. So, here we are, three weeks later, with three boys in one set of bunks. How does it work? There's one fella up top and two on the bottom. Which was all well and good until one of the bottom boys barfed this week. On the bunk, bed and brother. All we can say is that when they grow up and wonder why they shared a bed and why one was the recipient of the others regurgitated hot dog, we are telling them to call you... and hoping they will have a better experience than we did with your customer service line.

(not so) Fondly (but still in good humor),

The sleep-deprived parents of the Lyons Den