The Underwhelming Stuffler Experience

When I was searching for activities to do together as a family whilst Gran, Pa, Pat and Tim were in town, I came across a Build-A-Bear type stall being run in the Tuggeranong shopping mall for the school holidays. We’d planned for it to be something that Briar and her Aunty Patria did together but unfortunately we ran out of time.

With all the by busyness and travel of the last few weeks, I had a feeling Briar was craving some one-on-one mummy time so I took her myself whilst Warwick strapped Gabriel to his chest and had some boy bonding!

Whilst Briar has just loved spending time with all her relatives, sometimes its important to regroup as our little family unit and Briar is actually quite good at articulating this.

On Sunday, we were at a cafe for brunch following the Easter service at church, and Briar was perched on my knees bobbing around. She was struggling to sit still and kept headbutting me unintentionally. My father in law noticed that my patience was running short and offered to take her for a walk. “No,” Briar responded. “I need a cuddle with mummy.”

It was a moment that brought me back to earth, a reminder of my favourite toddler saying “My child isn’t giving me a hard time, my child is having a hard time.”

Sure enough, once I had given Briar a big bear hug, she climbed off my lap and happily played independantly again.

So keeping in mind that Briar needed some time where she was my one and only focus, and my arms weren’t occupied by Baby Gabe, we set off to “Stufflers” to build a bear!

I had thought this experience would be a real hit with Briar. I envisioned her picking out her bear, being excited by dressing it up and finding the whole experience really fun. Unfortunately, I think it was all so overwhelming to a two year old, that all in all, the whole thing was quite underwhelming!!

Mema often talks about the importance of empowering toddlers to make choices but not overwhelming them with too many options. A great article on this can be found here: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/joyful-parenting/201602/5-guidelines-giving-kids-choices

It states: “While it’s great to give kids a say in things, too many or too big of choices can overwhelm them or put too much pressure on them.

I feel as though this really sums up our Stufflers experience. Whilst Briar was happy enough to go along with it, the huge range of options turned out to be just too much and she switched off. In fact she seemed to get far more enjoyment from an old gingerbread man eraser that she found on the ground whilst we were waiting in line.

Nevertheless, we proceeded through the line and Briar selected a cat stuffler. I had expected her to choose Peppa, and part of me does wonder if she would have engaged more if I’d pushed her to choose the Peppa, however it was not about me so her choice of a grey tabby cat was it!

The next step was choosing a sound for our pussy cat to make. Warwick suggested Briar might choose a lions roar for her tabby cat but Briar decided on the turtle noise instead. Apparently turtles make cool bubbling noises. I inserted the bubbling sound box into the cats paw and we moved onto the outfit table.

Briar was certain she wanted her bubbling pussy cat to wear a Manchester United kit.

Although I didn’t actively discourage our pussy cat becoming a David Beckham feline, I may or may not have tossed the soccer outfit back on the table whilst Briar was distracted by picking out some purple shoes for her cat.

Thankfully, she was soon distracted by the huge number of princess dresses at the other end of the table. Again, it was just too many options to pick one out, so I grabbed a purple one to match the shoes Briar had chosen.

Now it was time to stuff the cat and this bit was rather scary. The idea is that the child pushes the pedel on the stuffing machine to fill their teddy. However, Briar isn’t silly and soon realised that every time she pressed the pedal down, the machine roared to action and created a scary sound so it wasn’t so easy to persuade her to keep her foot on the pedal. Thankfully the staff member helped there.

The final step was to choose a heart to insert into our teddy. Briar chose a red one which said Happiness.

Then we had to give our teddy a name and complete the birth certificate. Since the bubbling pussy cat was a grey/blue tabby with a purple princess dress and crown, Briar decided to name her “Brown”.

We sealed “Brown”, dressed her and we were finally finished.

A few more happy-snaps with “Brown” to show off our masterpiece:

And after that, she was tossed in the bottom of the pram and Briar went straight back to playing with that eraser!!!

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