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“3-2-1, blast off!” That’s what I heard when I asked Brandon why he was lying on the floor…inside a box. Without hesitation he told me he was in his rocket ship and was “going with his friends to Mars to help Goofy” (his friends being Mickey Mouse and Buzz Lightyear).

I’ve quickly learned as a parent that life with a toddler is never dull. Everything you encounter becomes an opportunity for fun, excitement, learning, laughter, or even the occasional meltdown out of nowhere, for seemingly no reason.

And the meltdowns truly do come out of nowhere, like when he returned from his successful trip to outer space. While getting out of his rocket ship box, Brandon slightly tripped. He didn’t fall down or even hurt himself, but he did realize that his rocket ship got a little damaged. The minor tear in the box quickly led to a mini meltdown. This caused us to spend a half hour reinforcing the box with duct tape so his rocket ship could survive its next trip, all the while I heard over and over, “But Daddy it needs more duct tape!” and “More tape here Daddy!” After we finished shoring up the ship, Brandon’s wide smile returned, the meltdown was over as quickly as it began, and he was back en route to Mars.

Of course if I think back, my parents and grandparents always said you could just give a child a box and they would be entertained for hours, but to watch it actually occur is fascinating. In just the past few weeks of quarantine, we’ve made everything from a house for his “friends” to join him (his friends being his stuffed animals) to his rocket ship. The way the boxes themselves provide endless options to open Brandon’s imagination and the way that he grows his imaginary world, even while playing alone, is mesmerizing to watch.

But beyond the world of structures and vehicles that we can make with the boxes, we have recently added an entire new layer to getting a package. As an adult, you might think the main excitement of a delivery comes from what is inside the box you had been waiting to open. But no. For my toddler, the ultimate approval or rejection of the delivery seems to rest not only on the size of the box, but whether bubble wrap is included.

And even before we get to inspect the inside, just the presence of a package at the front door, and whether Brandon is physically capable of lifting it, are reasons to get excited. After that hurdle is crossed and the package makes its way into the house, Brandon gets very serious about who the package is for, and whether or not there’s bubble wrap inside.

If there’s large packing bubble wrap, he carefully lays it out on the floor and jumps on each bubble sequentially, popping it with his two feet, and clapping with pride at each successful pop (never mind the startle it causes the infant each time, he’ll adapt). If a package has significant amounts of bubble wrap, Brandon considers rationing his supply to last more than one day, which usually just turns into a matter of hours, but his patience to not pop them all at once is a valiant effort, and the satisfaction on his face at each pop is infectious.

So when we recently opened a package without any bubble wrap inside, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Brandon inspected the box himself to make sure I was not overlooking anything and turned to me and declared, “It’s okay Daddy, you can buy me more things for delivery so we can get more bubble wrap and boxes for me to play with.”

I know he doesn’t understand the finances involved here, but it’s ok. He has figured out that the simplest things can make you happy. So here’s to hoping the next package has large bubble wrap – lots of it.


Read more Making Time here

June 2020
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