First of all, I would like to establish OUT LOUD that this is a safe space, and more specifically, this is a safe space where we can open up and admit that yeah, our kids are weirdos.
Even more specifically, Ezra is a weirdo. Like kind of a weird-y weird level weirdo.
I don’t know how to describe this one particular behavior he exhibits (and has exhibited for YEARS) without referring to the name of a popular yet distastefully horrifying reality show on A&E, so maybe this picture will give you an idea of what I’m dancing around:
Hey, Ezra! What have you got in your pocketses today?
20 minutes later, I think the pile ended up being 27 tiny Lego bricks, studs, berries, croissants, mugs, chalices, various non-Lego thingamajobs and two lint-backed pumpkin stickers that he got around Halloween.
And every single item is a treasure. His preciousesss. And every single item must be checked and accounted for several times a day, until he forgets about the entire collection completely. Which usually happens right around the time he tosses his five-pocket cargo pants into the laundry hamper. Because by that point, he’s moved on to a collection of slightly larger plastic sundries inside a coin purse, empty tissue box, or Ike’s talking plastic picnic basket that no longer contains any of the plastic picnic items, because Ezra has filled it to the brim with even more tiny Legos, three rubber scoops of play ice cream, a spatula, seven toy cars and a handful of broken crayons that he deliberately fished out of the trash when I wasn’t looking and is now guarding with his very life.
Jason just up and flat-out calls him a hoarder. (Affectionately! I swear. It’s not like we’re finding cat carcasses in his bed. Just all the baby books from Ike’s room, a bunch of Smurf figurines and maybe a Happy Meal box.)
I just think the kid likes…containers. Containers full of things. He’s like a pirate with a very DIY aesthetic and original take on the boring-and-done treasure chest. Gold coins? Whatever. Check out these extra stomp rockets and this roll of packing tape! WE’RE GOING TO BE RICH.
(Ezra, pictured here in Oversized Container Full of Tiny Things & Also Ezra Heaven.)
Over Christmas break, he stumbled across a backpack that I’d bought for him to take on long car trips. I guess he thought I’d thrown it out or something (LIKE I DO WITH BROKEN CRAYONS AND PROBABLY EVERYTHING ELSE HE LOVES), and was so, so happy to see it again that he insisted on wearing it nonstop for three days straight. At the dinner table. While playing outside. To restaurants. To bed.
So I wasn’t too surprised when school started back up, he insisted on carrying the backpack. Now, Ezra does not NEED a backpack at his preschool — in fact, backpacks are explicitly listed as something the children are to leave at home. But Ezra really, REALLY wanted to take that backpack to school, like his big brother.
So I let him take the backpack to school. Because I have better things to do in the morning than get locked in a battle of wills over a backpack with a four year old. Like, say, NOT getting locked in a battle of wills over a backback with a four year old.
Over time, the backpack went from being empty to…well, becoming yet another one of Ezra’s containers of weird. He added a notebook and some pencils...and then some finger puppets, a sandwich cookie cutter and the instruction booklet from our microwave.
So I realized we maybe needed to curb the backpack habit, especially since I learned he was refusing to take it off once he got to school. And while his teacher was completely understanding and accommodating of the backpack, he was a little less excited about the daily show-and-tell of broken pencils, Legos, empty DVD cases and talking Elmo phones.
It was right around this time that I agreed to do a sponsored blog post for Citrus Lane, which sends out age-appropriate, monthly curated boxes of eco-friendly baby and kid gear, toys, bath products, you name it. They sent me a couple sample boxes. One for Ezra and one for Ike, IN THEORY. In reality, once I opened the boxes, they were both Ezra's. All his. Because they were...containers. Full of…things. Bath toys! Books! Fruit snacks! Monkey dishware! Lotions and bath soaps and AHHHHHH!!!!
As I watched him paw through the assortment of surprises, I suddenly realized that I should have boxed and wrapped all his Christmas presents into a similar single box o' wonder.
Among the bonanza of items in our boxes was…a Skip Hop elephant lunch bag. Ezra just about passed out. A small…Ezra-sized…container…with a handle…for carrying…for which to put things inside…lunch-y things…omg…
Now, again: Ezra does not need a lunch bag. He eats a school-provided snack mid-morning, then comes home at noon and eats lunch here.
But some kids in his class stay all day. And these kids do indeed bring lunch bags/boxes, which they deposit into a classroom fridge each morning as they arrive. And it turns out that more than anything — even more than a backpack full of Monopoly pieces, miniature rubber tires and plastic teacups — Ezra wanted to join them. To be like them.
He didn't actually care about the actually eating lunch at school part, but just the morning ritual of putting lunchboxes inside the refrigerator. This is what makes you "cool," apparently, in today's modern trend-setting with-it-happening Montessori classroom. He even tried to put his backpack in the fridge on several occasions, and then tried to talk his teacher into letting him at least put some random pieces of toy fruit in there instead.
In other words, this lunch bag from Citrus Lane was the greatest gift that never would have occurred to me to buy for him, but there it is.
(So long, Play-Doh carrying case! We are moving. On. Up.)
Ezra still doesn’t stay at school for lunch, but every morning he packs up his lunch bag. He gets real sippy cup and fills it with water and shovels some Cheerios into a baggie. Then he adds two ice packs and a few extra essentials.
(Essentials like: Toy milk, wooden donut w/back-up icing slab, Lego construction worker, plastic pepperoni slices, felt tomato, some kind of stuffed lettuce pillow thing, sandwich roll and an entire Thanksgiving turkey.)
He takes it to school and puts it in the refrigerator, where it sits untouched (and non-distracting-like) all day. I arrive at noon to collect him and his lunch bag (which before I took these photos had just emerged from a vigorous cleaning after being sent down the playground slide into a mud puddle, because it and Ezra are best pals). Then we go home, where he dutifully unpacks everything and puts it all back in its proper place.
He’s never been happier, the goof.
Want your own box of random inspiration and handy essentials for your own little weirdo? Leave a comment between now and next Wednesday and I will select a random winner for a FREE box of awesome from Citrus Lane.
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