Family Matters
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Family Matters

Diaper Boxes, Plastic Cups, and Scotch Tape…?

What do these three things have in common?

THE ENDLESS APPEAL OF A CARDBOARD BOX

Well, they are by far some of the best kids toys ever marketed. I know! I know! The cost of them is prohibitive. But. They are toys with great longevity, and well worth the investment.

First, came the big plastic yellow cup. Before my twins could even sit, they loved that cup. If one had it, the other tried to get it. No other object would garner such concerted effort to wrest it from a neighboring baby.

They would turn it, and shake it, and pass it from feet to hands. Eventually, it became a vehicle to pour from or stuff things into. You could pound on it. Chew on it. Scratch your fingernails on its roughish surface. Oooh, and roll it!

Once you’re walking, you can put a cup inside a diaper box, and then climb in with it! Woohoo! You can get under a box or in a box. You can fill it up or dump it out. You can fill it up and slide it down the stairs. Poke a hole in it for a string and drag it behind you. You can put your sister in it and push her around the kitchen until it’s your turn.

The options are truly endless for the cardboard box. At 11 years old, my kids still love a good box. They will play with it for hours and days. When the kids were little, the diaper box was optimal size. Later, slightly larger was good, and now fort size is awesome. Laundry baskets can fill a similar role but be warned: they will end up cracked.

Then there’s tape. Any kind will do, but often it’s the clear wrapping tape that reigns supreme. The love of tape hits around three years old and appears to be nearly universal. Well, at least in my limited mom survey.

It is an enduring love, with as of yet, no clear end in sight. This toy can get a bit expensive. They won’t use it in little strips and bits…no, no, no. Great long pieces 3, 4, and 5 feet long will stretch across doorways and between furniture, from windows to floors, around and around stuffed animals, in the carpet, in the dog’s fur.

You’ll discover your living room has been taped from end to end, as though some giant psychotic spider had built its nest while your back was turned. “Mom, we need more tape,” they will say. So, after banishing the spider, you will get more tape. A three pack for good measure.

Then the next day, they will say, “Mom, we need more tape!” Whaaa? “I bought three rolls yesterday?!” “It’s all gone. We used it,” they say. “For what?” you ask. And they will bring you 25 tape mosaics. All of which, they expect you to prominently display.

So, you will get more tape for putting the tape mosaics up on the wall. The next day, they will say, “Mom, we need more tape.” Whaaa? “I bought six rolls. Six!” you’ll say. “It’s all gone,” they will say. “For what?!” you ask. “I dunno? We need more,” they say.

“I’m not buying more tape if you’re just going to waste it!” you say. Then, because you need some tape around, you buy three rolls and hide them. Heh, heh. You’re so smart.

Of course, when you go to wrap a gift, the tape will be gone. Grrr! “Look, Mom, we found some tape way down deep in that drawer and look what we made!” They will take you to some obscure window in the house which they have covered in a million little bits of tape.

“Isn’t it pretty, mom? It’s just like a stained-glass window.” The tape will have become baked onto the glass. After a screaming fit, you’ll spend hours carefully trying to peel off miles of thin plastic and adhesive.

No. More. Tape. You’ll be quite firm. But you might as well give it up. Tape is a toy of endless invention, and kids love it. You’ll never be able to keep it hidden nor live without it. Just buy stock in a tape factory, and then get it by the pallet load.

I do encourage you to try to put some limits on taping locations. Teach them to avoid windows, carpets, hardwood floors…really any floor, antiques, pets, kitchen cabinets, sofas…sigh. Just get good at peeling it off. And when people ask what to get the kids for their birthday? Tape.

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Kathleen Cawley

Physician Asst., twin mom, author of “Navigating the Shock of Parenthood: Warty Truths and Modern Practicalities" Available on ebook. Paperback coming 2023.