A Beautiful, Simple Thing

Life is like a line of sticky tape.

Standing in line at FedEx recently with my two year old daughter, I was reminded just how complex we make things in parenting, in life. The carpet at FedEx was worn from the in-and-out traffic and was pulling apart at a seam. Their quick fix was to tape it back together. I actually walked right over it without noticing. But not my little girl. As I stood in line, she ran up to the tape, checked it out and turned away from it. I figured she was looking for something more interesting than tape.

It turned out she was just getting ready for a running start at that piece of tape.

Step 1: Run, run, run right up to it.

2: Stop.

3: Jump over.

4: Squeal with delight (of course).

5: Do it again.

And again and again much to the delight(?) of everyone else in line.

Then she turned the three foot of tape into a race track. She ran round and round and round till she was dizzy. By then I was done at the counter and ready to go. She squealed now with anger when I dragged her out of the building.

When I asked her later if she wanted to play, she said, “YeahYeah. Sticky tape.”

“Sticky tape?”

“YeahYeah. Sticky tape.”

Maybe it is just my kids. I doubt it. All three have been mesmerized with tape. The older two at that age always wanted to sit up in their high chair and help cook. Great. I loved having them up there at the counter, encouraging them to learn in the kitchen beside me. My son always wanted to grab each piece of carrot right out from under the blade while I was slicing. I didn’t want to be sifting through my vegetables for missing fingers. But I didn’t want to send him away, either.

That’s when I discovered the astonishing power of sticky tape. I would tape two of his fingers together. That left him sitting safely, my little Houdini trying to escape. It gave me 72.5 seconds to get my chopping done. He’d finish with a smile and ask for it again. You should have seen his eyes once I introduced him to duct tape.

Sticky tape.  A cardboard box. An old magazine. Beautiful, simple things to spark their imagination. Perfect when I need a minute. Sixty seconds of me-time. Another beautiful, simple thing.

So I am vowing now, I’ve picked up my last pile of Barbies and my last mile of toy train track. Not one more herd of My Little Ponies. Guess what my little one’s getting for Christmas this year.

Todd Tuell is a work-from-home freelance writer and father of three. His joy is in watching his kids (way better than TV) and in writing fiction for children and teens. He seeks (and occasionally finds) rare moments of peace and clarity at the bottom of a coffee cup (first thing in the morning), in distance running (never first thing in the morning) and with the perfect ending to a novel (late-late at night).

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