Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Silver Lining

I would never want this boy to be sick. I would always wish for him to be as happy and healthy as he looks here at our family reunion last month:

But if sick he must be, I would wish for it to be just barely bad enough to ban him from daycare--because this means that he gets to spend the day with me.

This week, a minor throat infection struck Beenie, and I had the pleasure of his company all day yesterday and the day before. His mild illness may have created a little cloud of intermittent fever and a runny nose, but our time together edged that cloud with a silver lining.

With no time to plan and no particular agenda, we were content to simply let the days unfold on their own and go with the lazy flow of late summer. We ate when we wanted to, played when we wanted to, and napped when we wanted to.

On their own, our two days assumed a kind of animal theme. Here, in ascending order of time spent, are the three activities that kept us the busiest:

Number 3: A Berenstain Bears Book Titled The Spooky Old Tree

When it comes to a simple story and illustrations that truly captivate a three-year-old, Jan and Stan hit the nail on the head with this delightful book. In it, the three Berenstain cubs, equipped with flashlight, stick, and rope, take off on an adventure inside a gnarled, darkly ominous old tree nestled in a wooded area inhabited by bats and vultures.

One by one they lose their possessions to an alligator, a broad axe falling from a suit of armor, and Great Sleeping Bear, who wakes up in a really bad mood when the cubs crawl up over his back as he sleeps. Although Great Sleeping Bear chases them with a large, growly scowl, they are able to hightail it out of the tree and back home to Mama Bear, but not before having the biggest adventure of their little ursine lives.

Beenie was most fascinated by the "suiting armors" lined up in the "spooky old hall" that the little bears dared to investigate behind a secret panel deep inside the spooky old tree. Many questions and comments related to Great Sleeping Bear came in a close second: "Is he mad? What's he doing? What's he saying?" You get the idea.

Number 2: The"Elefun" Game

My most recent (and best) dollar spent at a garage sale went for a game in which a battery-powered fan blows plasticized paper butterflies up through the soft, collapsible plastic trunk of a jolly blue elephant. Once the fan motor is turned on, twenty-something red, yellow, and green butterflies fill the air above and flutter down to be netted by an excited, giggling boy who is supposed to be sick but is not acting like it.

The whole process takes less than thirty seconds, and then it is time to reload and do the whole thing over . . . and over . . . and over. I can't say enough about how much true "Elefun" Beenie and I had with this. In fact, it is so much fun that you don't even mind the reloading.

Number 3: Dinosaur Flash Cards

The same garage sale got me, this time for 50 cents, a like-new deck of thirty-six flash cards with pictures and facts about dinosaurs. Although the cards are recommended for ages five and above, Beenie absolutely loved these. Early in the game, he picked out a dinosaur to represent each member of his family. (I am proud to say that I am the allosaurus.)

Beenie wanted me to go through the deck over and over pronouncing those difficult multi-syllable dinosaur names (Thank you, pronunciation key!). "What's this one called about?" he asked each time he turned up a new card. I'll be honest--tuojiangosaurus and pachycephalosaurus took a little practice--but I venture to say you haven't lived until you have heard a three-year-old say struthiomimus. Many times.

Dorothy and her friends on the Yellow Brick Road may have had their fun in the realm of lions, tigers, and bears.  But--Oh My!--what fun Beenie and I had this week with dinosaurs, elephants, and bears. It may not have been Oz where we were, but for the past two days this old house has been every bit as magical.

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