Last weekend New York was paid a visit by winter storm Jonas. During his stay he brought heavy winds, plenty of snow and, if reports are to be believed, a strong desire in people to stock up on leafy greens like they did with the blizzard of 2015. Seriously, I must be watching a different news network than the rest of this city because I don't remember kale being an essential item for surviving a blizzard. Everyone knows you need blankets, booze and whatever crappy snack food(s) you can buy in bulk. I've never been in a blizzard and questioned whether I was getting enough vitamins and minerals. Unless it was vitamin A (alcohol) or vitamin C (cupcakes), then I totally worried about those.
The problem with being stuck inside during a blizzard, especially with a 4 year-old, is figuring out what to do with all that time. One of the things I suggested was building a blanket fort in our living room. Olivia had gotten her first taste of one of these during our Christmas vacation, when she visited some family friends who had built a blanket fort for their kids inside their house. I only got to see pictures, but from the sounds of it they had everything covered: multiple passageways, WiFi, working bathrooms and even a Turkish district. Aside from the part where Olivia had a run in with a rogue clothespin that wanted to mangle her finger, she got a big kick out of the experience.
Now that we're back in Brooklyn and stuck inside, Olivia would like a blanket fort of her very own. A cool place where she can play with her toys, escape the stress of her 8 to 2 and continue her class action lawsuit against the family friends whose clothespin caused her so much emotional distress. She's asking for $2 million, but I really think she should settle out of court for a pack of M & M's and a box of apple juice.
After scrounging around our apartment, I came up with enough building materials to get things started:
- 1 queen sized bed sheet
- 1 camera tripod (as a sort of tent pole)
- 2 chairs (for side support)
- assorted blankets of various weights to ensure blanket fort authenticity
- clothespins (to secure item #1 to items #2 and #3)
- assorted land mines, machine gun nests and barbed wire for perimeter defense
- 1 4 year-old foreman (foregirl? foreperson? forepreschooler?)
I began by attaching the sheet to our living room couch to act as an anchor. After spreading the sheet out to determine how much I had to use, I raised the tripod up to its highest setting and pinned the sheet to it. Next I positioned the chairs on the sides, attached the sheet and added some blankets. Once that was set I dug the moat, placed the land mines and positioned the machine gun nests to create an optimal kill zone in case of intruders. Fearing that the setup might be a little intimidating, I decided to soften it up a bit by setting out flowers, essential oils and cucumber water. I wanted this fort to say, "Keep Out! (But if you manage to make it past all of the booby traps then, by all means, take a load off and relax.)"
After adding some weight to the chairs and tripod to ensure that none of them would tip over, my tiny supervisor and I stepped back to admire our handiwork:
Not a bad start if I said so myself (which I did numerous times). Olivia, on the other hand, took a few puffs of her candy cigar, ashed on the rug and said, "It could use some stuffed animals and assorted toys of my choosing for you to step on." So I let her drag in a bunch of her things while I searched for another sheet and some blankets to continue the fort. As I started adding on I was gently notified by my tiny tenant that she couldn't see the TV from inside the fort, and that there were shows and movies to be watched that day. So I removed the additional materials and we went from building a badass blanket fort to building a badass blanket...amphitheater. Hey, at least the acoustics would be top notch if we ever hosted a live musical performance.
We spent the day watching movies, playing and rousing a bit of rabble. Yet every so often Olivia would say, "I want to go outside and play in the snow." I reminded her of the blizzard and that her tauntaun would freeze in these conditions, but she just gave me a mean glance, shouted, "Then I'll see you in hell!" and rode out the door in search of Luke Skywalker. Just kidding. I told her we'd go out the next day once the storm passed and the Imperial troops had left the area.
The next day the three of us put on all of our snow gear and went out to enjoy the fruits of mother nature's labor. Let me preface this by saying that a year ago our child wanted nothing to do with the snow. She'd take one look at it, spit on the ground and curse it as an abomination. Just one year later, she's a proverbial snow bunny. She was laughing, playing and having a blast...until she faceplanted in a snow mound. Then she was crying, sobbing and begging us to get the snow off her face. We wiped her off, checked to make sure she was ok and then turned away so Olivia couldn't see us snickering over what had just occurred.
The rest of our time outside was really special, because this was the first time in Olivia's life where she was into playing in the snow. We got to teach her how to make snow angels, how to pack a proper snowball, what color of snow was ok to eat and what types of wine go well with it. It's an incredible feeling to be there helping your child learn during those moments, because you're helping them build a foundation that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.
Who knows, maybe someday Olivia will need to pass these skills on to her own children. Someday she may be stuck inside during a blizzard wondering how to pass the time. I hope she'll remember these moments we shared together fondly and say, "It's time for Mommy to show you how to build a badass blanket amphitheater."