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Maddie and I have been sick with a cold for the past several days, and while it hasn’t been the worst one ever it’s certainly been the longest one ever- going on ten days now – and my creativity has been sorely taxed. I’m one of those moms that won’t take her kid to the playground until the child is free from a cough or runny nose; I wouldn’t wish a toddler with a cold on my worst enemy. Add to that the fact that Maddie didn’t really feel well enough to run around the park, and we had a long several days of a sick, listless, but still stir-crazy kid.

And apropos of nothing, but if there’s one thing worse than having to take care of a sick toddler while you’re sick as well, it’s having to take care of a sick toddler while your sick AND PREGNANT as well. Without Sudafed or even Motrin to help me out, I’ve been suffering through my drippy nose and raspy cough and sinus headaches cold turkey. I actually found myself thinking one night, “In the grand scheme of things, how bad could it really be for this unborn child if I take ONE DOSE of Nyquil? I mean seriously, it’s not like I’d be doing a line of cocaine!” In the end I chickened out and resigned myself to a sleepless night; my doctor’s so strict I’m not allowed to use most brands of cough drops while pregnant, so the thought of confessing the Nyquil to her was too much to bear.

But I digress.

So we were stuck having to find alternate entertainment for our morning hours. Sometimes I’d make up an errand to run – driving to the drugstore, say, or to Target, to pick up more baby Motrin or diapers. It’d be just enough of a change of scenery for her, and just enough physical exertion, without being too much. And I’d always give her a few minutes free reign to roam the aisles – the store clerks really loved me, I’m sure.

But even these fun side trips weren’t enough to keep Maddie from climbing the walls. Fortunately, I accidentally stumbled on Distraction Gold – her play house.

Over the summer I turned a large appliance box into a playhouse for baby girl; I gesso’ed the cardboard a pretty white, cut a door, and cut a window. I was sure she’d fall in love and want puppet theatre and little furniture for it and everything. For whatever reason, Maddie couldn’t care less about the thing and it’s been languishing in our stairwell ever since.

One evening I moved the box into the kitchen to give myself space for something else, and when I came back to get it I found Brian and Maddie knee-deep in play with the thing. From then on, the Box was a huge part of her play time.

Maddie became very specific with how she wanted to play; her favorite game was ordering whichever adult was supervising into the box – “Mama! Box! In there!” - closing them in, then walking around saying, “Where Mama?” while occasionally “sneaking up” on me and throwing open the door – “Find you!” she’d crow.

And truthfully, that was my favorite game as well; being isolated in a dark box for several minutes at a time gave me plenty of 30-second cat naps in between the “find you!” part of the game. And it meant I didn’t have to get up, talk, or, well, do anything.

She also loved throwing her puffy pillow in there and sitting on it by herself, playing with Kitty through the window, and hiding small toys in there to find later. The box was an invaluable tool for buying Mommy a few precious moments for nose-blowing, fixing lunch, and so forth from an otherwise clingy sick toddler.

But it does take up a lot of living room space, so as her infatuation began to wane I once again delegated it to the hallway. It sits on top of the Rainy Day Box and is ready to be called back into active duty at a moment’s notice.

Come our first snow day, it’s a safe bet it’ll be back out.


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