Right from the start we love to shower our kids with love, attention, and things of all shapes and sizes. After our first son was born I remember getting tons of gifts from family, friends, and co-workers. I would say the amount of gifts you get for a first born child almost rivals the amount you get when you get married. We almost had enough clothes for the first nine months of our son’s life. I say almost because no parent can resist buying those cute outfits when you come face to face with them in the store.?
You also wind up with enough baby toys for multiple kids to share. This comes in handy even with just one child because toys get thrown to the floor and the spare toys help quell that sense of fright you have about germs getting all over your kids. In the early stages, kids just play with whatever you put in their hands, and playing can be a simple as staring.
The fun for parents really begins when kids can start to manipulate the toys and experience for themselves the joy of opening gifts. I think the first time each of my kids opened a present my heart beat at near breakneck speeds. I was thrilled because I new what was coming, and they were going to be surprised. However, the surprise would become mine. When the wrapping paper fell away and the box had been removed from the toy, it wasn’t the toy they wanted, it was the box. So begins the journey.
There is something magical about a box to kids, and the bigger the better. I can remember all my kids first box like it was yesterday. The glee in their voice, the flash of joy in their eyes. Silly, you thought that excitement was for the toy you spent so much time thinking about at the store. It is humorous watching the person who takes the box off the toy and hands the toy to your child, only to have the items switched. It is my belief that a parent came up with the phrase “Think outside the box” when talking to their kids about presents.
If an arm or a leg is all that can fit into a box, then your child suddenly becomes part robot. This is hard wired into my kids, because each one immediately would stick a box on their arm and announce “I am robot, I am robot!” As suddenly as this occurs, the box is suddenly off the arm and either flying around the room as a spaceship or racing across the floor as a race car. Perhaps it even becomes a flying space car, but it is best not to question this innovation. Soon the crayons come out, depending on their age, and their invention takes shape in the form of lines and swoops of all lengths and colors.
With a slightly bigger box, and either a smaller sibling or a small pet, you child becomes a greater hunter and the box is the trap. Assuming your head is roughly the same size as one of the boxes, you will find as you sit in your chair the world becomes dark and you are now an astronaut. “What does it look like in outer space daddy,” they exclaim, to which I respond “I see stars.” This is more a practical response than a creative one if the box got jammed on your head, as tend to happens, and you really do see stars.
Once you get into the boxes that actually fit you child into them, you have achieved a certain level of awesomeness. Your standard box doesn’t move by itself, but that doesn’t stop your child from speeding around the world. One scene that plays out in our household that really makes me laugh is when my kids assume the tornado drill position, you know all hunched over and hand over the head, and they exclaim “You can’t see me!” When the box is so big you really can’t see them inside, their world is complete. They now have their own fort in the jungle, or a Lunar Space Lander. You get out the utility knife and cut out doors, windows, portals, and more. Flowers, trees, pipes, and other decorations appear all over the sides.
Eventually the toys they got get worked into their new box universe, but the box is still at the center. Don’t get me wrong, my kids love their toys and are grateful for what they get, they just love exploring the world “inside the box”. As a final note I would like to caution you if you have not gone through this experience. The fun doesn’t end with just the box in the complete form. Don’t be surprised if you reach in your pocket only to find cardboard coins and not the ones your can use in the vending machine. Also, don’t break their hearts when you sit down for dinner to a place setting made of last years box, just find a way to eat off the creation. The more you think “inside the box”, the more creative you just might become.