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Low-cost ways to keep the little ones happy

Hate to remind you, but Christmas is coming! Kids and parents will be visiting. Next problem: what to do with those kids.

Hate to remind you, but Christmas is coming! Kids and parents will be visiting. Next problem: what to do with those kids.

When I moved into a seniors' apartment, I was delighted when my neighbour's kids came to visit and keep in touch with their “Extra Granny.” But what to play with? After one life with a house full of toys, buying wasn't the way to go. I thought up some wacky ideas to share. One big hit was the great pile of empty toilet paper rolls, and the long rollers from wax paper and paper towels. Soon I had a huge bag full. Whenever the kids come over, it's like Christmas all over again as they put their young imaginations to work. I collected other mall containers of every size and shape, to help make houses, cars, animals.

Meanwhile I'd bought a new chesterfield. I saved the box and couldn't wait for their visit. Luckily, their parents saw the play value in this, not just the mess. To my delight, it wasn't long before I got photos of the children, and their neighbours venting their imaginations on the innocent box. It became a house, a car, a truck, and a sleigh ride. Soon, their mother was sending me cute photos of them and their neighbours' kids. Computer storage hasn't got through to me yet, so I lost the photos.

So, just look at “recycling” in a new way, and get the kids boredom index from soaring. Best yet, spent no money.

Here's another free entertainment for kids, for any time of year. Start saving little scraps of bread crusts, etc., and other stuff in the freezer. There are birds, particularly seagulls out there, just waiting to entertain your kids, albeit unwittingly. Look up, look wa-a-ay up, as The Friendly Giant used to say. On a high pole, you'll likely see a bird. That's him: the seagull lookout. Make sure he's looking, then tell the kids to throw a crust high. Mr. Lookout will start squawking. This is the gang's dinner bell. One bird will approach, then another, and another, until you have about two dozen silly birds swirling around your heads, really creating a happy ruckus. Best of all, tell the kids they are afraid of you; you need not be afraid of them. And then, when the food is all gone, listen to the birds muttering amongst themselves as you prepare to leave. “Well!”, they seem to say. “Is that all we get?”

Occasionally you'll get someone who'll lecture you about how the birds will never be able to look after themselves, and you shouldn't feed them. But here they are, far from the seashore. They'd die if we don't feed them. This will never be solved. Meanwhile the kids are learning about nature, and survival.

So, for now, why not get ready for Christmas. Start collecting those empty toilet and waxed paper rolls, and boxes of all kids and shapes. And keep the gulls in mind for summer.

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A few days ago, with an armload of groceries, I walked out of Callingwood Safeway into a heavy downpour. My car is close, I'll just run for it, I thought. Suddenly here's a young man, who says, “Wait here. I'll run to and get an umbrella and help you to your car.” Huh? This doesn't happen! I said, “I'm just over there. I've been wet before. I'll just run for it. Thanks, anyway.” But I'm still in shock. Too bad we don't hear of the “nice” young ones. So now we've heard of this one. They're still up and coming. So, cheers to this young guy. Sir Galahad still exists.