As a parent, you get creative fast. First of all, nothing last long enough – clothes, food, toys, your sanity and patience. You think you have enough of them and then bam! they’re gone or used up or worn out and you need something else. So you have a choice: You can take out a second mortgage on the house and squeeze in a pizza delivery job during those hours you had foolishly scheduled for sleep and just keep buying new, new, new, or you can figure out how to make everything do double or triple duty. Clothes can be handed down, toys can be combined and re-purposed with a little imagination, and everything else gets put into the shed for a bit until you can figure out how to get a little more use out of it.
My recent triumph along this line was the Pink Lunch Bag from the Clear Bag Store. Originally bought for, you know, lunches, my little darling had begun getting her lunch at school, and so the sturdy clear bag with the bold pink piping had sat for a bit on a shelf. But my little girl had developed a sudden anxiety about her stuffed animals, particularly Mr. Paws, a grungy old bear with one missing eyeball that she liked to have with her at all times. I’d so far been fighting a rear-guard action against taking Mr. Paws to school with her, but at home and on family outings she always wanted that bear in sight. It had become an issue when she couldn’t have him out and in her little hands.
I didn’t want to take away her toy, but there were plenty of occasions where it wasn’t appropriate for her to be lugging around this old bear, but if I took it away, she threw a tantrum. You have to pick your battles, and the tantrums were something I figured I’d deal with in time, but with a lot of family get-togethers coming up, I needed a quick and easy solution. And so the Pink Clear Lunch Bag got a second life as a Paws Display Case.
Paws, still sticky and smelling slightly of grape jam, was placed lovingly inside the clear bag, where he had plenty of room. My daughter brought some of Paws’ favorite things to place in there with him: a twig, a banana, a small red ball Paws apparently liked to play with when I was not in the room and he magically came to life. And suddenly, we had a way to bring Paws everywhere with us without having him be on the table while we ate, dragged through all sorts of dirt and dust (and that germ warfare battlefield known as the playground). My daughter didn’t mind Paws being in the bag; she actually seemed to think of it as Paws having his own room, and liked just being able to glance over and see him at all times.
Next trick: Convincing her that mud is not her friend. But one creative idea at a time.