We have an “Aunt Eleanor Box”.
It is filled with accumulated goodies that can be used for a variety of celebratory needs. Last minute invite to a child’s birthday party, here’s a Melissa and Doug puzzle. Forgot it was Cousin Helga’s anniversary – here’s a candle. It’s not that the items or the person are an afterthought, Aunt Eleanor believed it was a helpful tool to gather special items in one place. She mostly didn’t want it to get wrapped up with her elaborate toilet paper art installations; I am mostly using it because when my life feels like a human pinball game, it is helpful to have a place of consistency.
Our box spawned a secondary box: The Children’s Chew Toy collection. These mostly are the items one may find at the Dollar Spot at Target, the sale rack of TJ Maxx, or the neighbor’s yard – we aren’t discerning. They range from erasers to bouncy balls, anything trivial, just as long as it is the most wonderful thing my children have ever seen on the first day and then never looked at again the next morning – it will be perfect. This has been especially helpful for our daughter’s sensory needs. Sometimes, she just needs something. I would choose a cookie, but she craves something tactile. However, we made the mistake of leaving “Aunt Eleanor Box: The Children Chew Toys collection” accessible to her one fateful morning, and found a graveyard of the infamous bullseye packaging . We had to “up” our parenting game.
I moved it to the top of a closet. She got a chair and climbed right up. I moved it to the back of my closet. She first tried on my bra and then dug into the box. We can never find her shoes in the morning, but she has a sixth sense for this box.
On a particularly egregious afternoon, it was time for – the box. None of our strategies were working and a deterrent was necessary. While I wrangled the twin tornadoes, my husband moved to the closet where the box lived, but despite our best efforts, we could not get all fifty pounds of her to leave my husband’s side. We had finally found a spot she didn’t locate and were not about to comprise the location. She was crying, she was anxious, she was unraveling.
Jordan, I have to get you something.
I want it!
Yes. The box is in the closet, but the closet only appears when Daddy is alone.
And like magic, she went into her room. She, I couldn’t believe it, waited patiently while my husband retrieved the item.
This was a parenting epiphany! Let’s lie and pretend it is magic!
Now, I don’t want to give myself (as my people would say) a kenahora about this. You may poo poo poo the evil away, but I firmly believe in the magic of the kenahora. The baby is finally sleeping through the night, only to suddenly hear wailing – you get the idea. So hopefully, my declaration of this realization will not undercut it, but it seems to be working.
This evening, Ms. Jordan refused to eat anything. And when eating right out of the peanut butter container with her favorite Ariel spoon doesn’t work, we are frankly screwed. We thought making Jell-o would be a great solution. It’s an activity and a meal. We measured, we poured, we stirred – hooray – pink Jell-o.
“I want it.”
“Yes, it will be ready in, let’s see… oh 90 minutes. Let’s take a bath and it should be done soon.”
“I count. 1, 2, 3. It’s ready. I want it!!!”
So, we failed to see a key component for our child who has trouble waiting. We didn’t get the instant kind. But, we have our key to parenting. If I could distract her for ten minutes, my husband could race to the grocery store, grab pre-made Jell-o and tada – magic! We avoid complete meltdown!
As I see the car pull out the driveway, I gather the trops. “You see kids, the reason the jello was going to take so long is because we didn’t say the magic words. Everyone gather around to do our magic potion.”
And there the four of us stood while my husband was probably sprinting through aisle 2. We held out our imaginary wands (one of the little ones used a muffin) and shouted our favorite magical words. Abracadabra, Bippity boppity boo, Expelliarmus. We did the “Magic Jello Dance” [use your imagination] and POOF!
Ten minutes later, my husband was sweaty, the Jell-o was set, and her bowl was full
“I did it! The magic worked”
Yes, you did Jordan. And so did we.
[Slow parenting high five]