Think your couch is just a couch? A hairbrush meant for brushing hair? How about that 18-pack of toilet paper you just bought? Bet you didn't realize it was actually a birthday celebration wrapped in plastic.
Kids have the amazing ability to take everyday household items and find new uses for them. This ability is so great, in fact, that you may not need to buy another Christmas present, birthday present, or bribery present ever again.
Here's a list of the top five things your kids will adopt and turn into a plaything more beloved than that ridiculous Pillow Pet they swore they’d play with every day, and is now sitting forgotten at the bottom of their closet.
The Couch. Your children will spend more time playing with the couch than with all of their Hot Wheels, Geotrax and princess dolls combined. It's a trampoline for launching little sisters toward the ceiling fan. It's a labyrinth of cushions, tunnels and secret passageways. It's a great place to hide mouthfuls of food you could have sworn your child swallowed until you flop down one evening and find semi-masticated green beans shoved between the pillows. Beneath it you'll find puzzle pieces, socks, candy wrappers, TV remotes, Jimmy Hoffa, and fossils from the Cretaceous period. It's a napkin, a tissue, it will get peed on, cried on, kicked and hugged, a place for both time-outs and times to snuggle. It will never look as good as it did the day you brought it home, and don't even think of shining a black light on it once the kids have gotten a hold of it—it’ll rival any over-the-top scene from CSI: Miami.
The Coffee Table. This piece of furniture marks the difference between people who have young children and people whose children no longer consider boogers a food group. People with older children—or no children yet—have things like books, magazines, framed photos and other breakable tchotchkes on their coffee tables. People with young children do not have anything on their coffee tables except a few unidentifiable smears, some crayon, a plethora of scratches, and a Lightning McQueen sticker that refuses to come off. Instead of a display place for civilized items, the coffee table will be a place for your darling offspring to construct intricate train sets, work on their impressionism art with marker, and to practice their Olympic long-jump from the coffee table to the nearest couch. Kinda like Tom Cruise (including the same maniacal grin).
Cookware. So remember that fabulous set of cookware you registered for at Williams-Sonoma and hoped someone would buy you for your wedding? Be grateful no one did, because your children would have trashed it by now. And it would have spent a few sad years doing nothing but boiling water for Mac&Cheese (and the occasional pot of spaghetti). Since you only microwave food for your children, your cookware will sit in the cupboard collecting dust until your children discover it. Then it will become a drum set, helmet, and hiding place for dinosaur figurines, Little People, and ultimately, your car keys. Good thing you have a spare set…if you could only find it.
Toilet Paper. And who can really blame them? Toilet Paper is just begging to be unraveled, thrown around, torn into confetti, and wrapped around anything that sits still long enough to be mummified (this includes you when you’re trying to lie down for two seconds). Another fun game is Let’s See How Much We Can Fit Into The Potty (which is directly followed by Let’s See How Anxious Mommy Can Look When She Tries To Flush All The Paper Down The Potty And The Water Level Starts Rising). One good thing about using up an entire roll of toilet paper in less than six seconds is that the empty roll instantly becomes a telescope, megaphone, arm cast, and tunnel for the gerbil you may be talked into purchasing at some point in the near future. And while we’re on the subject of cardboard….
Cardboard Boxes. Hands-down, these are the best gift a parent can give her child. The bigger the box, the better. It’s a playhouse, a fire engine, a rocket ship, a boat, a toboggan. It can be scribbled on, stabbed, crushed, dragged outside and rolled down a hill. Score a big cardboard box and everyone wins: Your husband will be psyched you finally broke down and gave him your blessing on that flat-screen purchase, and the kids can finally harness their innate desire to destroy things by playing Wrestlemania inside a makeshift steel cage. And you will win because while everyone else is occupied, you can sneak off into a closet to finish reading Water for Elephants so you have an excuse to see Rob Pattinson on the big screen. As if you needed one.
This is just the beginning. Because as you know, kids are creative enough to find new uses for just about anything in your home. I’m still dreading the day when my own children discover my stash of wrapping paper and start sword-fighting with the economy-sized rolls, then decide to gift-wrap the entire contents of their toy box. Then again, the empty roll will serve as a great tunnel for our new pet gerbil.