Katie has a problem. She's got lots of toys and not enough energy at the end of the day to pick them all up. Our converstations go something like this:
Me in an excited upbeat tone: "Katie, please pick up all of your toys."
Katie, kind of distracted: "Mommy, I don't want to."
Me in a patience is a virtue voice: "Katie, pick up your toys. You can start with the K'nex and put them in the box first."
Katie paying attention now: "But, I playin' with them."
Me (wondering if this is easier to do myself but then remembering that I need to teach her to be responsible so must stick with this no matter how difficult it is to keep my smile on when I just want to dump everything in a bin and stick it in the closet): "You can only play with a few toys at a time... pick the ones you want to play with and pick the rest of them up. You need to be responsible for your things."
Katie in a kind of whiney tone: "Mommy, I too tired to pick up my toys."
Mommy's note: This explanation of why she can't do whatever she's been asked to do rotates with "Mommy, I too boring..."
Me: "Okay, do you want me to put them away in my closet so you can't play with them allllll day tomorrow?"
Katie: "Okay Mommy. You pick them up and put them in your coset."
This is a common conversation with a few variations but you get the idea. So, you can see why I had to do it. I had to invent... The TOY FAIRY. I figured, we have Santa to keep kids in line for most of the year but I can't make Santa take toys away... that would be wrong! So I created a new character.
So, without further adieu, the tale of the Toy Fairy as told to Katie last night at 10:30 p.m.:
"Katie, you need to pick up your toys before we put on your jammies. If you don't, the Toy Fairy will come and take them." (Katie's eyes got very round)
"The Toy Fairy, mommy?"
Finally, I'm getting through to her... she's actually listening!
"Yes sweetie, the Toy Fairy. The TF (abbreviating for the numerous times I'll mention the Toy Fairy but won't want to type it) comes to the house and if there are toys laying around and not put away, she will put them in her bag and carry them off to a house where the children are responsible and take care of their things and she will give the toys to those kids."
Now, at this point Katie seemed a little nervous so I added:
"The TF doesn't want to take the toys, as a matter of fact, when she comes to a house and the toys are put away, she gets so happy and her icky gray dress and her ugly shoes suddenly start to sparkle and shine and her wings turn pink and her face is happy and she becomes beautiful because she is so happy that she has found a child who takes care of her things! If she has to take the toys with her, her dress stays very ugly and she doesn't sparkle and she is sad."
Imagine my surprise when Katie started to pick up! She kept it up till a lot of the toys (small tiny things) were picked up!
Then I had to go into the bedroom to change Jacob's clothes and get him a bib (we've got another tooth coming in so he's a droooool machine!), and I heard Katie calling for me from the hallway. I went to see what was up and she said "Mommy, I have to pick up my toys before the TF comes and I need you to help me!" She was looking into the living room anxiously. I told her I would be right there and she said "I have to hurry before the TF takes all of my toys." Uh oh. She was on the verge of tears. I quickly explained that the TF doesn't come until everyone is in bed, asleep but that didn't seem to help. Daddy came inside at just the right moment. Katie asked him to help her and between the two of them got everything picked up. Crisis averted.
On the one hand, toys got picked up... on the other, trauma and tears.
I might have to amend my story to be more "toy friendly" or, if worse comes to worse, I'll just tell Katie that the "monster juice" (or bug spray if you're not 3 years old with monsters on the brain... thanks Scooby Doo cartoons!) her daddy sprays on the house kills Toy Fairies too.