Outside The Box

Our box sled is falling apart.

I’ve taped it back together five or six times, but it’s just cardboard, you know?  There are pieces of it everywhere.  Even so, it hasn’t stopped my son from thoroughly enjoying his mattress slide.

Yesterday he came in the door from school, inhaled two chocolate pudding cups and immediately set to work on reconstruction.  (We grown-ups have to dismantle the slide each night if we want to go up to sleep.  Which we do.  A lot.)

As I type this, my son is tirelessly climbing up and sliding down, giggling and singing all the while.

He is pleased with this new use of the stairs and seems largely unconcerned with the angled landing two feet up from the bottom.  A few years ago it might have frustrated him to tantrum level, but now I think he sees it as an extra challenge.  Navigating successfully over those last two steps seems to elicit his best laughter.  And mine.

Our home takes a beating from this sort of thing.  Look at the wall on our landing.  High speed box hits = color transfer.

I’ve never pretended to have a Pottery Barn house, but it is sort of depressing that something so fun for him means that I probably can’t even maintain a minimum level of order and style.

But the thing is, this activity has encouraged my kid to pass another hurdle in his development.  Suddenly he has a fully vested, verbally expressed interest in our laughter.  That may not seem like much to you, but it’s HUGE to us.

His giggling is a source of great joy for my husband and me.  Really, what parent wouldn’t say that?  We all want our children to be happy.  But we never heavily considered what our laughter might mean to him.

Our son is largely incapable of discerning emotion from facial expression.  One day he may seem very interactive and in tune with our moods, and the next day, he may be unresponsive and withdrawn.

It is not unusual for him to smile when we are sad or mad or to scream when we are happy.  He doesn’t look to us for any guidance on the appropriateness of his owns emotions and he typically seems very unaware of ours.

This new delight in our laughter is important.  While our son is always enamored of sounds he can recognize and repeat, particularly those that are distinct or musical, this is different.

He makes eye contact, he recognizes an emotion and he prefers it enough to request it aloud.  He sits in that cardboard box, looks at me with a huge grin on his face and says “Mama laughing?”

It’s more of a request than an inquiry.  He wants me to really chuckle.  When I do, even just a little, he is clearly pleased and starts really laughing himself.  Pretty soon, the two of us are cracking up at cracking up.

The past two mornings have been awful in our house.  On Thursday we were over an hour late to school and on both days I cried in my car as I drove away.

Honestly, I don’t know how I shake it off each morning and get through the day.  I am frequently consumed with worry that I’m doing everything wrong.

But right now, I’m looking at these streaks of color on my wall and I can’t help but laugh because I know that box sled is one of the best things I’ve ever done.  🙂


A last minute update…

About thirty minutes ago, I climbed into the sled and flew down the stairs myself.  I don’t recommend this if you are over seven years old.  It hurts.  More than I predicted. 😦

2 thoughts on “Outside The Box

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