The Magic of Kleenex
- 13 I watched my sixteen month old daughter last night as she discovered the magic of the Kleenex box that sits on the coffee table.
At first, she curiously fingered the white pouf that came out of the yellow flowered box. It wasn’t thick like that paper in the catalogues that she absconds with, nor did it have pictures or words on it. She tugged lightly at the tissue, but lifted the entire box off the table, much to her surprise. Cautiously, she set the box back down. She loosened her small grip from the small white blaze sprouting from the bright yellow box and put her head down in a problem-solving stance.
I decided to add another aspect to her discovery process by casually pulling a tissue from the box and blowing my nose. The remnants of my sinus infection still made for a noisy and interesting noise when I did this. Her head popped up at the sound. She looked me in the eye and gave me her best “raspberry” to imitate the sound on my nose blowing. I chuckled and again pulled a tissue from the box. Placing it in front of her nose, I gave her another sample blow from my own nose; this time somewhat awkward since I require two hands to effectively use a Kleenex. She did not disappoint; as predicted, she echoed me back with a nose blow raspberry.
Her attention then turned back to the yellow box. The blurry orange and blue flower print caught her eye. I watched as she carefully ran her finger along the print. Her gaze then shifted back to the white swatch casually poking through the top of the box. She again picked the tissue up, box and all. This time I helped her. I set the box back on the table and put the weight of my hand on it. My daughter knew what needed to be done. She pulled the tissue out of the box with a look of determination that quickly morphed into a complacent smirk, expecting to get away with the crime of the century: Kleenex larceny in the first degree. Her expression changed to one of pure shock when she realized that her plan was foiled by the appearance of another tissue obediently poking through the top of the yellow flowered box. With a determined look, she repeated the process. Now she held a tissue in each hand as she shot a dirty look to the tissue box, wondering why it again was offering her yet another tissue. She took a moment to think about the situation by running around the perimeter of my living room waving the tissues and exercising her vocal cords. The dog came running into the room to investigate his baby’s cry. She changed directions when she saw the small black dog and ran off to tackle him, letting go of her tissues. I watched as they floated to the taupe carpeting in a graceful free fall. I assumed this was the end of the fascination with the Kleenex box.
The dog and the baby parted ways quickly, like two beings with short attention spans can be expected to do. She stepped over the fallen tissue soldiers that now decorated my carpet and sat on the floor, turning her attention to the ending theme song of the Laverne and Shirley episode that I had turned on. Slowly, her head turned and she stole a glance back to the yellow flowered Kleenex box. She turned her head back to the television but wiggled her body towards the coffee table. Soon she was sitting beside the coffee table.
Due to the relative heights of sitting toddlers to standard size coffee tables, I could see no more than a wisp of blonde hair in fly-away curls at the end of the coffee table. The television switched to an episode of Good Times. The theme song to that show is like a virus that makes me want to sing. As I am belting out the tune, I can see those few blonde wisps slowly turning 180 degrees. Ever so slightly, her curls crown just above the surface of the table. Her small hand reaches up as high as it can and in one quick move the Kleenex box with the orange and blue flowers is knocked to the floor. I let my voice trail off with the theme as Jay-Jay makes his opening appearance in the show. Dy-no-mite! I think to myself as I inch towards the end of my espresso brown leather sofa. I peer over the edge of the coffee table. She has again taken an interest in the mystery of the tissue box.
Without my help the tissue and the box are one unit; she seems to understand this as she casts a brief sideways glance as me. Too determined to seek help, she continues to explore her options. Suddenly, as if an unseen force was present, she loses balance in her sitting position and rolls onto the box; not hard enough to crush it. Since toddlers are top heavy, it doesn’t bother them to lose their balance. They usually just plow onto whatever task they had their mind set on. She continues her quest in solo tissue removal from the bright yellow box. With an awkward tug, Success! She has mastered the idea of taking out one tissue by herself. To celebrate she gets to her feet and presents me with the spoils of her labor. I thank her profusely and she returns to her task.
The telephone rings. I walk away from her to answer. My alumni association is asking for money. Didn’t I just send them a donation? The nervous college student on the other end of the line goes on to explain to me that it’s not the amount of the donation, but how many donations they get that ends up being more beneficial. I agree to send a fifty dollar donation, and make a mental note to send a dollar a week for the bulk of a year. I hear quiet chuckling behind me. I wonder how my daughter is coming along with her discovery session.
She again has a tissue in each hand. It seems she mastered the concept that you need to sometimes hold down on the box to get a tissue out. What she can’t get over is the idea that another tissue will always dutifully follow the one before it, ready to take on whatever tears, boogers, or other fluids it is going to encounter. She smiles at me and pulls another tissue out, holding it up for me to take. Then another, then another. Each time she looks down, she shrieks with joy to find another reliable tissue poking out at her. It wasn’t a full box, but it wasn’t empty either so this process repeats for quite some time. I wonder while she hands me tissue after tissue to add to my growing flower bouquet is this is the brand that places a few colored tissues at the bottom to indicate when the box is almost out. She finally pulls the last one out – it’s still white. My answer is no – not Kleenex. She picks up the box and looks inside. No more. All things must come to an end.
I wonder how she will react to this game ending so unexpectedly. Then the dog runs in again and she is off toddling to chase him, her thoughts no longer on her experimentation with the Kleenex box. The attention span of a toddler is sometimes a good thing. I pick up the now empty box and shove my handful of tissues haphazardly into the plastic bordered slit on top. The magic of this box is gone. It was transformed into the laughter of a child. I decide that I won’t put out a new box just yet. We’ll use up these tissues – given the runny nose that I still have it shouldn’t take long and then I’ll let the magic start all over again.
I don’t have to wonder where she gets her curiosity from, things like the pop-up tissue dispensing method of some tissue boxes secretly crack me up, when I take the time to think about it. I also like the dispensers that exude one single cylindrical object at a time, time toothpicks or straws. My aunt has a cigarette dispenser that pushes her Parliament Lights out of a plastic donkey’s behind – I don’t think I’ll show her the magic of that one just yet.Last edit by sirI on Dec 5, '09
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