I recently had to help my sister in her hour of need. Her business partner had caught some awful virus and under doctor’s orders was not to travel, so she was unexpectedly going on a business trip to Hong Kong for 5 days and I was going to become the sole guardian of my 5 year old nephew.
I don’t have any children of my own, I live in a small one bedroom flat, I am currently living on a tight budget and to top it all off, that specific week happens to coincide with my partners ‘men only’ holiday, so it is definitely going to be just me and Charlie.
Initially the massive task ahead of me didn’t seem that big a deal, I’ve looked after many children at one time or another, I spent half of my teen years babysitting and I’ve always got on well with Charlie anyway. Little did I know that I’d soon find myself constantly having ideas of things I needed to get sorted out at home to make it safe and child friendly for Charlie. I ended up writing everything down to try to keep on top of it all.
Aside from all the usual worries where kids are concerned, I desperately wanted to make sure my nephew wouldn’t feel lonely, bored or end up dreading ever spending time with me again. I tried to think back to what I did at 5 years of age but times were different then, all kids played out on the street, or friends would call to ask if you wanted to go out and play, now parents rules have changed and it’s rare that kids are allowed anywhere without adult supervision. My mind wandered as I flicked through my notes when I spotted something I’d jotted down.’ Cardboard boxes’. Amazingly my scribbled notes had given me an excellent idea!
Examples of many uses of cardboard boxes for a young (supervised) child.
• Making hats, masks, puppets, forts, boats, cars, swords, shields, costumes etc
• Building dens
• Hiding inside
• Jumping out of
My mind was racing with ideas, ‘oh, the possibilities are endless’ I thought. Of course for all of the craft sessions I’d need a few other bits and bobs, coloured tissue paper, glue, but this could be a good way to stay within my budget and make a 5 year old boy happy. ‘Bubblewrap‘, another excellent idea, hours and hours of fun! I’m 30 and I still cant resist popping a few bubbles when the opportunity arises.
Eventually I decided to have a look on the internet for supplies, and managed to get a fantastic deal from a local packaging company. Boxes of all sizes, coloured tissue paper, a huge roll of bubble wrap, delivered to the door 2 days before Charlie was due to arrive, I hid them all away in the wardrobe with the bags of balloons, bubble blowers, colouring books and other cheap supplies I’d managed to get, crossed my fingers very tightly and hoped Charlie would like my ideas.
All of my worry was unnecessary as it turned out, Charlie and I spent an enjoyable week together, feeding the ducks, going to the park, making fairy cakes, and best of all making things out of cardboard boxes.
By the middle of the week Charlie had decided that as you could make all kinds of things from a few bits that just happen to be lying around the flat, he was going to make up a play to perform for Mum when she came home and we could make everything we needed for the play – out of cardboard. We made a robot costume for Charlie and I had a variety of hats to wear as I played at least 4 different people in his big play. We also made some scenery and a couple of props. I’ve never met such a driven young boy in my life before. He was on a serious mission all for a welcome home-coming for Mum. We did practice our lines a few times and got nearly all of them right for the real thing.
As soon as Mum was back, had said her hellos, spent at least 5 minutes squeezing Charlie, and had been fed and watered the performance was on. Charlie did very well, remembering to change the scenery at the right time, use the right props in each scene, and he spoke in a loud and clear voice all the way through even though the audience of 1 was only a metre away!
My sister was touched by the performance and all the effort that had gone into it, She couldn’t thank me enough for taking care of her boy while she was in Hong Kong, and although Charlie said he’d be sad to leave he was happy Mum was home. He couldn’t however, bear to leave all his new handmade toys and pictures behind, and came close to throwing his first tantrum in a whole week until Mum gave in and they were carefully packed into the car, taken home and were given pride of place in Charlie’s bedroom.
Its only been three days and already I miss Charlie’s company but life is slowly returning to normal or so I thought. Charlie surprised me with a phone call today asking if he could possibly come and stay with me for the night, he’d had a great idea for a play… Perhaps I need to keep boxes in stock at all times from now on!