I celebrated Martin Luther King Day in as respectful and fitting a manner as one handling solo parenting for the day with a toddler can: I took her to IKEA! (Hey, Dr. King won a Nobel Prize and Alfred Nobel was Swedish, ergo…)

Anyhoo, I’m standing in the play area watching Sabine and a girl of about three play at the same efficiently yet whimsically designed and affordably priced Flöorgenvørgen table when the three-year-old starts elbowing in on Sabine’s territory. Her father is standing right there but apparently he’s not seeing too clearly after the meatball and lingonberry lunch he just loaded up on because this happens:

* Three-year-old starts hulking in on toy with which Sabine was playing.

* Sabine gives her a “the hell?” look.

* Three-year-old’s father says, “[Name], don’t take that; she’s smaller than you.” He pauses, and adds, “even if she did snatch it.”

* I give him a “the hell?” look. Seriously, he can’t just own that his kid was being the noodge without having to blame it unfairly on a toddler?

* Three-year-old, also looking confused, says in her beautiful little lispy choirgirl voice of unwavering honesty, “Thee didn’t thnatch it from me.”

* Father turns beet red.

* Three-year-old gilds the lily by sharing with Sabine the toy she was holding, clearly as a peace offering.

And that kids, was the Martin Luther King Day in which IKEA was the scene of someone speaking truth to power, helping me keep my vow of non-violence.

Photo: Piotr Redlinski for The New York Times

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