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A Sneaky Way to Entertain Your Preschooler

Well, I turned 30 yesterday and I have to say it was kind of uneventful. As you know, JD is sick, so I couldn’t really party or go out to eat because when JD is sick all he wants is mommy. I happily cuddled up with my son all weekend—that’s what parents do—take care of their kids—stop everything, move mountains—watch Cars multiple times and read the same book again, again, again. Well, aside from being a Mommy-Nurse, I learned something awesome—I mean soooooo awesome, that promises to rescue me this long, cold winter when we’re trapped indoors watching the snow pile up.

Last night, I was in the kitchen making a salad and JD came running in holding a little, orange plastic thing. A thing. Really, I had no clue what it was, where it came from or what toy it belonged too. Great.

“Mom-MEEEEEE!” JD said with a bit of frustration in his voice. He was kind of mad.

“Yes, bud?” I said.

“Where. Is. My. Diego!” he asked.

Pause. Hmmmm.

Oh man, where was his Diego and that singing house with all those pieces.  That little orange thing is Diego’s harness from Diego’s Talking Rescue Center. A Christmas gift from 2009 that JD kept disassembling, until one day, I decided (to be evil) and hide it away in my closet because I needed a break. A break from fixing it 12-times-a-day. A break from the animal sounds and theme song. I probably resolved to take it back out after a day or two, but I guess JD got caught up in another activity of the moment.

Now that he was standing in front of me with Diego’s harness, I quickly searched my brain: What closet did I hide that in? Did I hide it in one of the spare cabinets in the kitchen, I wondered as I opened and closed cabinets finding only vases and plates and a blender. Finally, I found it in the master bedroom where there are two closets (the walk-in is where I keep my clothes and shoes, the other closet is for storage and apparently toys.)

Can I just tell you, JD lit up when I walked into the living room bearing the yellow tree house and all its gadgets. He was like a puppy trying to get at a scrap of steak, pawing at me and screeching in delight. And I totally got it. I'm the same way when I re-discover a bag I haven't used in a while, like my vintage Gucci my mom gave me (it was hers). By vintage, I mean, it's from the 80's.

I quickly assembled the toy for JD and he played with it happily, not breaking it once. “Mommy, let’s play together,” he said. “What do you like? The parrot, the snake?”

“I like the little kitty cat,” I said, sitting down on the floor. JD stopped dead in his tracks and looked at me seriously, or more like I just said something insane like, it’s raining pigs!“ That is not a kitty cat, Mom-MEEEE!” JD said. “It’s a baby jaguar and this is mommy jaguar!”

D'oh!

After that was resolved, we sat on the floor and played rescue this animal and that animal for a good stretch of time. The only way he came to the dinner table was if the baby and mommy jaguar could come too. Which was actually kind of awesome and turned into a teaching moment. “They are just like us!” I said. “The baby lives with just his mommy! They are super-duper cool!”

“Yeah!” JD said. "Supa-Dupa!" (LOL!)

Smile.

This morning JD woke up at 6 A.M. and the first thing he said was not, “Can I have milk?” It was, “I’m gonna go play with my tree house now.” I kept him home today and my mom is watching him because he’s still a tad under the weather. I called to check on him and my mom said they’ve been playing tree house all morning. Ha/awesome.

The moral of this story sweet readers…hide some toys. Make them disappear. Then, this winter when it’s snowing and freezing and you’ve run out of things to color and make with cotton balls and glue and the trains and dolls are now “bor-rinnnnnnnng,” you can bring something “brand new" into the mix! I mean, it clearly worked for me! What will I hide next…nothing is safe.

Don't worry! I did get a little celebrating in for my 30th! Read about here.

Do you hide or rotate toys? If your child gets a lot of birthday and holiday gifts, do you hide some for a rainy day? Please share. Check out parenting.com's Toy Hall of fame! JD loved his Gloworm as a baby and is now obsessed with Candyland.

Full disclosure: Nope! I do not endorse Diego or any of the mentioned toys/brands for compensation.

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