The Little Einsteins are a quartet of super cute cartoon characters who fly around in their rhythm-powered rocket ship, helping socially awkward butterflies and growing harpsichords out of seeds. In an episode that has now become famous in our household, they contended with an instrument-stealing Grumpy Wizard. This particular bad-tempered magician made a big impression on Benjamin over the summer. After watching the show, he summarized the plot for us.
“Grumpy Lizard taking trumpet away,” he worried.
“It’s not a Grumpy Lizard, it’s a Grumpy Wizard,” his brother told him.
Benjamin nodded. “Grumpy Lizard taking trumpet away.” He repeated this mantra innumerable times a night for what felt like weeks, somehow getting the word wrong time and again. “Grumpy Lizard taking trumpet away.” Zachary groaned with frustration each time he heard it.
Eventually, the Grumpy Wizard really became a lizard in the kids’ minds. For a time, their little plastic alligator was known around these parts as the Grumpy Lizard. Then Benjamin moved on to obsess over other fictional characters, most notably Tinkerbell. The Grumpy Lizard was still live and well and living in Tahoe, but Ben sometimes mentioned pirates and princesses, as well.
So, when we instituted a sticker chart to try to reward all behavior that did not consist of biting his peers, I wanted to get him a used Tinkerbell costume as a reward. When I went to buy it from a mother in the area, she had a pile of other stuff she was selling, too. I stocked up on rewards, including Tinker Toys, Lincoln Logs, and three pairs of plastic dress-up shoes with feathers and sparkles on them. Each time Ben earns a certain number of stickers on his chart, I pull out a reward. I have yet to give him Tinkerbell, as that will make all other prizes seem pathetic by comparison, but he has earned a doll, chocolate, blueberries, raspberries, and special time alone with Daddy. Last week, he earned his first pair of dress-up shoes.
He was beside himself when I presented the plastic blue slides with the feathers and the giant hearts on them. “Princess shoes!” He sat down immediately to pull off his socks and slipped them on. He stood up and promptly fell on his ass. He sat there crying as he stared at the shoes that had fallen off of his feet. Walking in heels is hard.
I helped him put the shoes back on and stand up. With a little effort, he was able to balance and even slide forward. In a few moments, he gained confidence and started working his way across the floor. And then he spoke.
“I just gonna poke some giants and the Grumpy Lizard,” he growled.
Apparently, these were warrior princess shoes, and he finally had the power he needed to vanquish that felonious little lizard.