A Cardboard Box and an Afternoon

The garage is piled high with cardboard boxes, distaff from Christmas morning. The boxes used to hold promises, now they hold styrofoam and packing peanuts, refuse I’m too lazy to properly discard.

With some time on my hands, and two kids in my face, I opted for activity over indolence.

“Let’s get some scissors,” I said. And then sprang into action.

Every castle begins with a need. “This valley is a passage for marauding tribes. We must protect our farmers, so let’s build some walls and show them what a real now-fashioned arrow-riddling is like.” In our case, the house needed protection from marauding children, hoping to be let loose with markers and paint against defenseless white walls and television sets. A castle to protect the house.

To build a castle out of cardboard boxes:

  1. Get some boxes.
  2. Tape the top flaps upright, to increase the height of your walls. I used packing tape, since it works well on cardboard and usually comes with its own dispenser.
  3. Cut a floppy draw-bridge door in one wall.
  4. If you have a wrapping paper tube lying around, cut it into four equal pieces and tape them to the inside corners of the bailey (that’s a fancy term for the inside area of the walls in your castle. I think. It’s been a while since my Battlements class at UCSD). These, you see, can be used to hold pennants (not included), so you may fly your colors from the walls and let the world know you still endure.
  5. Cut another box into long, wide strips. Cut teeth into four of these strips. YOUR WALLS REQUIRE DEFENSE! Crenelations! Protect your archers and pitch-tossers!
  6. Tape the strips, sorry, your fortifications, to the tops of your walls.
  7. Tape more strips, with one edge folded, to the inside of your walls. How will your soldiers stand behind the lovely crenelations you’ve just provided if you don’t give them a platform to stand on?
  8. Take two more strips, and accordion them so they form stairs, then tape the stairs to the inside of the walls and to the bottom of the box. Castle. (This is why you use a box with a bottom instead of opening it up completely. Now your archers can run up and down the stairs to defend your castle. Hooray!
  9. Cut another door in the back of your castle, this one much wider. You will be folding flaps down on top of this piece, so it has to be able to accommodate that.
  10. Take a third box  (the second one is the one you cut into strips, remember?) and cut a door flap at the corner. Fold it down, outside, and tape that flap onto the open flap you just cut into the back of the castle. Also secure the top of this new box to the back of your castle. Now your room ain’t goin’ nowhere. Maybe build a little cardboard closet or bed or something and tape it inside.
  11. Take a fourth box and repeat step 10, but on the other side of the back door. Repeat decision process re: closet or bed.
  12. Hand to your kid.
  13. Take a nap.

Note: If you have more than one child, you may need to build more castles. Else your castle will face the wrath of the Neglected Dragon, breathing fire and stomping all over tiny drawbridges.

 

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