A Hard-Night Helper

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When your kid is having a day from you-know-where that becomes as endless as the line at the DMV, you'll do almost anything to right it. I was in such a state one day when Ellie, then 4, fell into a bottomless downward spiral. Whacked her head on the kitchen counter. Couldn't get the take-turns-thing going with her twin sister, Caitlin. Couldn't recover when the purple, pink, and yellow Play-Doh turned into a tiresome brown. And so it went, one preschool crisis after another, until I tucked her tired-out self into bed, figuring she was so exhausted that she'd finally find some bliss in a sweet dream.

But it didn't end there.

After several trips up and down the stairs and in and out of her room, I was desperate for something to close the door on this day. Suddenly I remembered a stuffed toy kangaroo, complete with baby 'roo, that I'd stashed away. Kanga had been purchased for Ellie on a business trip, but in a showing of twin-like loyalty (or jealousy) she preferred the mountain goat her sister had gotten. Call it fate, but for some reason I'd never returned the rejected Kanga, which sat in my closet for more than a year.

I grabbed it, headed for Ellie's room, and asked her to take care of Kanga and Roo for me that night, because they were having a rotten day, too.

Maybe it was something novel to cuddle. Maybe it was the role reversal. Maybe she was simply just exhausted by then. But whatever the reason, Ellie snuggled up with Kanga and drifted off to sleep.

And that's how Kanga began her career as the official Hard-Night Helper. Thankfully, most of the time she's off-duty. But it's a comfort to know when one of the girls is out of sorts, I've got my go-to gal waiting in the wings.

Pack-ratting away every toy your child doesn't take a shining to won't cut down on household clutter, and I can't guarantee that the odd cast-off will rescue every lousy day. But if it stops even one endless meltdown in its tracks, in my book, it's worth a little less space in the closet.

How do you put an end to a rotten day? Click the comments link below to find and share solutions.

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