Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Fun Play Time With Silly Putty, or How Silly Putty Almost Gave Me ANervous Breakdown!

This morning dawned pretty grey and rainy here in Rochester today.  Lucy, recovering from another nameless pediatric virus, had gone to bed super early around 6:45pm last night.  Fortunately for all she had a great night sleep, and didn’t so much as peep all night.  I know this because I was awake from 2-4:30amand didn’t hear any peeping. Unfortunately for me, this wonderful night’s sleep combined with the early bedtime meant that she woke up very vocally at 6:08am.  It’s hard to be grumbly at a child when they wake up singing, especially when singing is such an improvement from yesterday’s all day virus induced whine-fest. And it’s nearly impossible to be grumbly at a singing child when you open their door, they jump up and down with joy at your presence, and upon turning on the lights you see they are covered in a viral exanthema from a Coxsackie virus.

Note: to the layperson, aka the non-indentured to a medical spouse or parent or other family member or friend person, a viral exanthema is a non-specific viral rash.  Of course, in this case it was more specific because it mostly clustered on her hands, mouth,and feet, thus pretty much narrowing it down to Coxsackie virus.  If you have ever had kids, you have seen this lovely virus a time or two, and pitied your child as they suffered through the very painful looking bumps on their poor chubby hands in inside their little mouths.  Now Google viral exanthemas.  I dare you.

Lucy, lovingly sharing her Coxsackie virus with her friend Rosie.

This lovely viral addition to our household, combined with the fact that Lucy’s top canines are finally coming in, and that makes for a very unhappy mouth situation all yesterday. However, given Lucy’s joyful attitude upon waking, I could only assume that while the rash looked twice as bad as it had yesterday, she was feeling much better.  However, unhappy or super happy,toddlers are almost always loud, which is a sauce that does not go well with a very tired and cranky worked until 2am husband. So I whisked my little darling downstairs, covering her with kisses to keep her giggles at bay until we got out of sound range of the bear den…I mean bedroom.  (Note: don’t worry about touching or kissing your little plague victim when they are covered in these rashes.  You probably won’t get them as an adult.  Probably.)

So, now we are downstairs, and twenty minutes later we have eaten all we are going to eat of our green eggs and ham breakfast sandwiches and our green grapes and our green milk (Note: a lesson I learned from my beloved father when feeding sick or otherwise incapacitated children.  Dye everything with food color.  No homemade, mashed, riced, creamed, buttered and otherwise enhanced potatoes ever tasted as good to me as those nasty boxed soap flake mashed potatoes my Dad would make when we were sick.  Because he dyed them red, green or blue.  Which was AMAZING!), and it is still raining,and no way am I showing up to the gym daycare with this speckled child expecting them not to bar the door and shoo me away.  Which means…craft time?

The ladies at Play at Home Mom were experiencing a rainy Wednesday morning too, and were doing a very fun find things in home made silly putty project.  I looked at their blog post and in my heart of hearts crowed in triumph.  HAH!! YES!!  I have stuff to make silly putty that I bought at the store three months ago and have been hoarding for just such an occasion as this!!  I, too,can hide things in silly putty and turn this into a tactile learning experience while I am exiled from the outside world! Take that, err, I mean thank you mommy blogiverse!

“Lucy!” I shouted, startling her out of a very concentrated attempt to open the door to her barn silo and retrieve all the farm animals I had stuffed in there the night before, “we are going to make silly putty!!YAY!”

“Okay!” she responded, completely clueless as to the fantastic comedy of errors that was about to ensue. 

I grabbed the starch and some white glue that we never use out of one of our craft bins (Read: storage area for random stuff that sounds better when you say ‘craft bin.’) and grabbed Lucy and plopped everything on the kitchen counter to start our adventure. Our silly adventure.  And an adventure it was.

So, a word on silly putty. Every blog I read says it is stupid to buy it, because it is ridiculously easy to make it.  As in your toddler can make it herself and not screw it up.  Which is an awesome mentality to have going into a project…or not.  So, equal parts laundry starch and glue.  Stir really vigorously until you have a smooth, rubbery blob.  Add food coloring at the beginning if you wish.  No problem, right?

Um, problem.

First, let me just tell you, you didn’t put enough starch in.  You measured out equal parts,though, you say?  So what.  Put more starch in.  Now stir more.  Nope, not good enough.  Just add more starch until no more starch will absorb into the mixture and pools in the bottom of the bowl.  Then sop that up with a paper towel and you have perfect silly putty.  If you do not do this and you decide to try and follow your precious 1:1 ratio recipe, then don’t come crying to me when your silly putty gets EVERYWHERE.  Because silly putty without enough starch is both runny and sticky.  An unholy combination that is really only acceptable in the form of sweets, like honey,syrup and warm molasses.  Unless you are going to glue something, in which case you use glue.  The whole point of adding starch to glue is to make it not runny and not sticky.  So shut up and just add more starch.

It was during these 45 minutes of starch experimentation(during which I gave up on having Lucy participate until it was finished and just asked her to make Don a picture with markers and stickers) that I learned something very important about myself.  I hate sticky.  Almost to the point where I could say I have a horror of sticky, but not quite.  I just really, really hate it.  Messy, I am dealing fine.  You dropped those stones, that’s ok we’ll pick them up.  Dirty, no problem.  Love it. Grab that mud with both hands, we’ll wash up later.  But sticky….please no.  Please don’t open your PB and honey sandwich and wipe the honey off with your fingers. Glue isn’t sticky, because glue dries and peels off.  Even edible sticky is somewhat ok because you can usually lick it off hands.  But blue,starchy glue sticky…that has a place in my own personal hell.

I am not too proud to tell you that at one point this silly putty almost went the way of a previously mentioned dough gone wrong that ended up spattered all over my kitchen window and cupboards in a fit of rage.  It was only the though of having to clean up that absolute nightmare of a mess that kept my rage in check.  Barely. My hand shook as I added more starch, that last and final time.  In fact, it was probably the shake that added in the extra slop of starch that gave it just enough to kick it over the line from sky blue hell sludge to smooth, rubbery blob.  I touched it again, tentatively, full of foreboding.  The silly putty indented slightly with the pressure of my finger, and then oozed back into place.  My finger was blessedly free of any smear of blue goo, only a slight sheen of starch remained.

I washed my hands for the 73rd time this morning,and, once again triumphant, set a Tupperware full of blue silly putty in front of Lucy.

“Silly putty! Yay.  You can hide your stones in it and then find them.  You can pick it up and let it ooze through your fingers. You can make hand prints in it! You can…do other stuff with it. Explore, learn, yay!”

Twenty minutes later, Lucy decided she wanted to try and cover her new farm in silly putty, and I had to intervene.  But aside from that, it seemed like a pretty good idea to Lucy.  It was stringy, and goopy and blobby.  It hid things.  It made hand prints.  It resisted cookie cutters in a humorous manner.  It was blue. 

Blue hell sludge...I mean silly putty.
I was pretty happy. OK, so it took me 45 minutes and a near nervous breakdown to make it, but I did it. And Lucy loves it.  And when she is done I can save it in a little baggie and we can use it again another day.  So it’s reusable and environmentally friendly.  Woohoo!

Twenty minutes after my “woohoo!” Lucy was sitting on the couch in time out, her pajamas covered in blue stripes, and I was gathering silly putty off the craft table and then slopping it, still full of stones,into a snack baggie.  So, the verdict on silly putty: still an overall success, I think. What we have to work on now is Lucy’s listening skills when I tell her to stop pouring the silly putty onto the table and into the drawers and onto the drawing pad.  And, probably more so,my patience.  But I think having a toddler in general will help with the patience.

Or, that’s what they tell me.

Covered in silly putty.

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