Thursday, November 13, 2014

Cardboard Friend Arrives for Lunch

 Because all the good stuff in life can now be delivered to your house in a cardboard box....right?

Yesterday morning, as I was pedaling them to school, the boys were discussing "Cardboard Friend" and how we should purchase one.

Cardboard in general has always been a popular yet problematic topic at our house.  During our early frugal and overachieving parenting days, (in other words, when we only had one child), we used to make out of cardboard whatever toy Archer thought he really needed to have.  We constructed a pirate ship, a castle, Star Wars vehicles, power tools, and my husband's special contribution, a rolling lawnmower. In the spirit of full disclosure, these items were most often made out of Fresh Direct Boxes, which were arriving at our house with alarming frequency, often containing only one loaf of bread, or two artisanal pickles. We did our best  to convince ourselves and anyone else who would listen that we were doing something positive with our first world problem of having too many boxes.

At the time, I fantasized that I was teaching Archer important values: "Why should we buy this cheap plastic toy that you think you want when we can work together to create a more interesting one for free?"  Those who have kids, or really anyone who can remember being a child, knows what the flaw in this edifying line of reasoning is.  Beyond that, what I was really doing was training a demanding junior art director: "No Mom, the castle should have three towers and a working drawbridge!" A child who who believed that his parents should spend huge amounts of time building things to his specifications.  And when you are talking to a three or four year old, and you say "Let's make a lawn mower!" what you really mean is "I will make this for you while you whine endlessly about how it is taking too long."

We have continued to try build things out of cardboard in my studio over the last few years, so Archer and Ansel decided that "we" should make a Cardboard Friend ourselves.

I did a little bit of research last night and, ugh, learned more than I care to detail here. To be brief: there was a kid character kid dressed as a cardboard robot called "Danbo" in a popular Japanese manga back in 2007.  This box robot was later reproduced as a toy and was disseminated to broad internet fame in the following years.  There are Amazon and 7-11 logo box versions and thousand upon thousands of "fan art" photographs of these cute boxbots in every possible locale engaged in every possible activity.  If you are interested in the details, or wish to become one of the over 144,000 fans of Danbo on facebook, "Know Your Meme" has an informative "danbo" page.  Or you can buy one at Amazon, with the logo on it for only $19.95.

Archer tells me that he likes the idea of Cardboard Friend as a "being invested with mystical power." Yes, those were his exact words.  I have some mixed feelings about the ubiquity of cardboard in our lives, and for the moment, I am going to try to resist buying a Cardboard Friend or even making one of our own.

But I did draw one popping out of Ansel's lunch bag.

Below some of the cardboard building at our house 2006-2013.  And no, I don't think I can find a picture of that spectacular lawnmower.

...But wait... several hours later, a photo of the famed lawn mower has been found:
And here's one of the castle  because I clearly cannot stop myself:

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