Following a recent rash of birthday parties, the goodie bag has become the bane of my existence. While I was driving us home from a party last Sunday afternoon, C, after comparing his goodie bag to his younger brother's and seeing that the items differed, shouted: "there's something wrong with my goodie bag!" I didn't bother explaining that the goodie bag is a nice gesture from the child hosting the party and not your God-given right as a party goer, it didn't seem like the right time for a "teachable moment." The goodie bags my kids have come home with aren't that bad, as in, they haven't been filled entirely with candy. In fact one bag contained some animal trivia cards that were really interesting. Did you know that there are 1,000 different species of bats? And who couldn't use another super ball?
Generally speaking though, the interest kids show in the contents of a goodie bag seem to be in direct proportion to the time it takes to drive home from the birthday party itself. This might explain why goodie bag items often end up being left all over the back seat of the car.
In January H and C both received goodie bags which contained an item called "grow a bug." You remember how these work. You put them in water and they are suppose to quadruple in size in 72 hours. Well in January C was really into the concept of grow a bug. I could see it in his eyes. He was picturing his bug (a caterpillar) outgrowing our bathtub like the picture book, A Fish Out Of Water, which, incidentally, was written by Dr. Seuss's first wife Helen Palmer. We put his bug, along with his brother's (another caterpillar) in the largest tupperware bowl in the house and filled it with water. For the next 72 hours, when C was downstairs, we brought the tupperware downstairs, when he went upstairs to bed, we perched the tupperware on a chair next to his bed. H, meanwhile, thought the bugs were real and kept taking them out of the water and trying to pet them. C would then yell at him to put the bugs back into the water so they could continue growing.
During this last spate of parties C received a "grow a whale," which boasted it would grow to four times its original size. Skeptical because his bugs failed to fill the bathtub, C reluctantly gave the whale a try. While he was at it he found the two bugs and put them back in the water as well (after you take grow animals out of the water they revert back to their original sizes).
This time, instead of starting off with the biggest tupperware bowl in the drawer, I chose a bowl only slightly larger than the bugs (and whale) themselves, which proved to be a smart move. "Look how much bigger they are," C remarked genuinely impressed, though he didn't feel the need, this time around, to keep the bugs (and whale) next to his bed at night. They did look bigger. I transfered them to another tupperware.
I ended up transferring them into three different tupperware containers before we finally conceded that they weren't going to get any larger. Each time I moved our three "pets" I paid tribute to Roy Scheider by remarking solemnly, "I'm gonna need a bigger boat." Nobody got the joke but so what. I thought I was funny.
song: Let it Grow • artist: Eric Clapton