Friday, November 26th, 2010
Advice to a new dad
A pending new dad on social media site Reddit.com (expecting his first child by Christmas) made a general call for any sort of parenting advice. One user mentioned a parenting book, and so I posted this semi-sort-of-related comment:
This is an aside. You’ll see a lot of toddler activity books that involve making toys with household objects. You’ll fondly remember Calvin & Hobbes playing in a cardboard box. You’ll even let your kid play in a cardboard box for a few days after you buy a major appliance, before recycling the box. But then, every Christmas you’ll buy a crapload of plastic toys and electronic gadgets for your kid that crush his inherent ingenuity and imagination.
Read these three books:
By Robert Paul Smith.
And then maybe you go to a hardware store, furniture store and grocery store when they’re unpacking merchandise, and plead with them to give you their boxes. Then, instead of a toy kitchen or pop-up canvas play hut or other large toys, you might just set aside a section of your living room for two octagonal watermelon crates or two BBQ grill boxes topped with a futon box roof. You might even fight with your wife over the vital importance of the most awesome toy ever created gaining a permanent presence in your living room — nah this wasn’t some temporary experiment — because those boxes really are a boat, plane, space ship, grocery store, cave, hot air balloon, dive for hide-and-go-seek, and a reading alcove on a rainy day.
[Okay, admittedly, we do own a toy kitchen, although I've downsized it to a portable one that usually gets moved into one of our cardboard rooms. And those rooms are leftovers from my daughter's cardboard fort party last summer. And I really did have to put my foot down about consuming a large portion of our front room permanently with cardboard boxes. They are the best toys we own. Anyway...]
And then you’ll enjoy a good chuckle when you are cruising through a Target department store some Black Friday to buy an extension cord — admittedly a really bad day to buy an extension cord — and you’ll notice they are selling a walk-in cardboard space ship and your first thought won’t be, “Geez, they already decorated the outside of the boxes” or “I can’t believe they’re charging $20 for this on sale.” Your first thought will be, “P-shaw, that cardboard is only a quarter-inch thick. It will crumble when the kids climb it to escape the lava pit on Planet 10.”