In the summer of 2013, our daughter left her diapers for more colorful and musical alternatives. She’s four and a half now and has moved on, viewing these artifacts as a stage in her life she knew must have happened because of the photographic evidence, but one rooted in family lore. Bottles. Diapers. Sleeping with her mama and papa. A world without dresses and tutus, light up shoes, or her own big girl bed.
Cardboard boxes are revered in this house. Kavya’s little brother, Shaiyar Singh, is ten months old and something of a cardboard box connoisseur. He’ll play with shoe boxes out of politeness, but give him a humongous Pampers Box and it’s a party. Often, Kavya will abandon her toys and dolls and dress up gear for the cardboard boxes Shaiyar is having much more fun with, because who wants to miss out on having fun? Nobody, that’s who. We’re spending the Christmas holidays in Puerto Rico this year and I’m pretty sure we’ll have to postpone that trip if a good cardboard box comes along.
Over the weekend, joy spread throughout the house as it was EMPTY PAMPERS BOX DAY! We spent hours using the box for its intended purpose, starting with Kavya putting it on Shaiyar Singh’s head and watching him violently take it off, examine it, attempt to eat it. Then putting the box on our head to enact various Star Wars characters beyond the obvious R2D2. This takes a bit of imagination and consists of this general blueprint for fun: first put the box on your head. Then use a line from a Star Wars character with minimal ad libbing because words are important. Mine is usually, “Luke, I am your father.” Kavya says, “hello, I’m princess Leia.” The fact most of the characters don’t have masks or covered faces is an insignificant fact. Unfortunately, I didn’t take any photos of this as I was busy living my life. Next time.
The day ended with an ill-fated attempt at all four of us sitting inside the box (Kavya insisted it was big enough). Sunday evening arrived, along with that dreaded moment where we transition into Monday mode in a deluded attempt at home organization. Me and Kavya have just taken the garbage out and are grumbling about how there are plastic grocery bags all over the place that it makes it difficult to find the tall garbage bag we need.
A lightbulb appears above my head. I didn’t see it happen, but I distinctly felt warmth on my hair and the heater wasn’t on. You explain that as anything other than a lightbulb over your head.
Instead of throwing the awesome Pampers box away, me and Kavya made a functional grocery bag dispenser with smiley faces on it using a knife, a piece of velcro, tape, wrapping paper, and pure creative brilliance that cannot be bought at Art School. In case it is unclear, we are a family of ARTISTS. Here are the three steps needed to make it, but remember, only do this AFTER you have finished playing with the box. I mean, your children. Of course that’s what I meant.
Tape up the front of the box. Cut a large rectangle on top, where the grocery bags will be go. An exacto knife is the obvious choice, but anything works.
Find a small child. Show them how amazing you are at cutting complex shapes into a cardboard box. Wait for them to be convincingly impressed before proceeding to the next step. This may take a while. Withhold basic “rights,” like food, water, television. Threaten to send them to school in grey sweatpants.
Cover with wrapping paper. If attaching to the wall, use a strip of velcro and stick on the back. The box, even when filled with plastic bags, will not be too heavy.
Gather the family. Tell them to share it widely on social media with the hashtag #bestcardboardartistpapaever. Once the image and hashtag inevitably go viral, ask for compensation, pretending not to understand how hashtag monetization works.