The boys – there were three of them – were out of sorts with life, with each other, and their mother.
There was nothing to do. Nothing at all, mind you. It was such a boring day and each one dared her to say it was otherwise.
It was raining outside and,of course, that made them even more out of sorts. Nothing their mama could say or do was going to change their moods or their minds about the day.
So, she proceeded to clean out the toy closet. You know, the closet that had nothing in it with which to play. They came wandering from other rooms with their faces full of disgruntlement.
Their mama suggested the trucks as a possibility. They weren’t interested. Perhaps they’d like to do puzzles or make a tent with blankets? Their pouts grew thicker. She suggested the piles of construction paper, but their looks of disdain grew longer. Next, she asked about the dress-up costumes which in the past had provided hours of fun, but that was a dumb idea, she was told.
Their mama just kept cleaning out the closet, organizing toys and pitching broken items, and they just hung around, waiting for her to figure out something to do since she said they couldn’t go outside to play.
Finally, she picked up the container of blocks. In the past, they loved to build cattle corrals or towers with their blocks. Sometimes they used their blocks as square bales of hay or to make a secret tunnel. Not today. Today, you remember, there was nothing to do.
She moved the tub of blocks out of the closet and moved it into her bedroom. Then she shut the door to her room as if to make a point.
The Forbidden Fruit
“Today, you can play with anything in the closet. Except the blocks. I want to sort through them, so just leave the blocks alone.”
She closed the closet door and went to the kitchen to fix lunch.
The house was silent for a bit, and she smiled to herself. This reverse psychology was going to work. It always did. Her boys were just young enough so this could work.
In a few minutes, she was bombarded with begging.
“Please, Mama, can we play with the blocks?” the oldest one asked.
“No, son. I haven’t sorted through them yet. You can go play with something else.”
“But we want to play with the blocks!” second son stomped his foot.
“Oh, you can play with them tomorrow, as soon as I get them sorted,” she replied, trying not to smile.
“Pease, Mama, pease, pease, pease?” the youngest begged.
“I haven’t had a chance to sort the blocks yet. You can play with something else until I do that. There are plenty of other toys in the closet,” she spoke to all of them.
“All we can think about is playing with the blocks. We can do lots of things with the blocks,” oldest son said.
“Please, Mama? We won’t be grouchy if you let us play with them!” second son said.
She stood there for a moment in the kitchen, pondering (pretending to, anyhow).
Finally, she relented, which was actually her planned intention.
The boys found the blocks where she had stashed them.
Suddenly, there was so much to do with those forbidden blocks. The rest of the day there were no complaints about nothing to do. They forgot about the rain that prevented their escape to the outdoors. Instead, they built and created to their hearts’ content.
This Mama aced the dreary day by making something familiar become forbidden. Then she acquiesced, just as she had planned.
She said, “It’s okay. I suppose I can sort the blocks another day . . . . ”
The forbidden fruit became the prize – and the entertainment – of the day.