When Nate was a wee lad in Birth to Three, his beloved Ms. Katy came over and introduced our family to the magical world of the Bean Box. There’s nothing to it really — get a box (one with a lid is preferred) and add some beans. But it is ever so calming and relaxing and fun. As soon as we saw the joy it brought to Nate, we set out to make one of our own. Chad and I bought every kind of bean we could find: red beans, black beans, black-eyed beans, green and yellow split peas, and that bag called “40-bean soup,” which has awesome colors and shapes. To make it more fun, we threw in a few tiny toys to Nate to discover. Whenever Nate needs a sensory break, he reaches under the couch, pulls out the box, opens the lid, and runs his hands through the cool, weighted legumes.
Of course, Nate has grown and the bean box has not. This has resulted in awkward situations as of late. Nate recently decided that playing with the beans wasn’t enough. In order to get maximum sensory integration, Nate needed to sit in the box.
In the weeks following Extended School Year, Nate felt the need to sit in his bean box multiple times a day. It was calming and helped Nate regulate his senses. This led to multiple inane conversations in our home between me and Chad. Should we buy Nate a giant bean box? Where would we get that many beans? How much would those beans weigh? Where would we put it?
Then we found this gem on summer clearance and we couldn’t resist.
This is the Little Tikes Big Digger Sandbox. The box footprint is about a 2.5 foot square, which is perfect for our living room. The cover slides off and attaches to the end to make a ramp for the truck to roll up and down or, you know, for Nate to use as a diving board to jump into the bean box. Chad and I both felt strongly about having multiple types of beans in the box so we picked up 20 additional pounds of every kind of bean that Stop & Shop had and threw them in the box along with the beans from the original bean box. The result is a ridiculously happy boy.
Nate dove in as soon as he saw it and he’s played in the box every day since. The sandbox came with a rake, shovel, and two cups that neatly hang over the side of the box plus a digger crane that lets Nate scoop beans to his heart’s content. He also likes to search for the random toys we’ve hidden inside. In fact, we caught Nate hiding a few of his own for fun, too!
We’ve discovered that Nate does not like beans when they’re stuck to the bottom of his feet, which is a side effect of diving into the box feet first. Chad tried to put socks on Nate’s feet as a solution but Nate didn’t go for it. However, Nate has now turned the pair of socks into a “request” for bean box time. Nate brings one of us a pair of socks and points to the bean box to let us know he’s ready to play.
There are a few downsides to an indoor bean box. First, as you might have suspected, beans get everywhere. But it’s not as many as we thought and it’s easily managed with a nightly sweeping. The other downside was one we didn’t anticipate. Apparently, a big ol’ bean box looks like a big ol’ litterbox to Pete. When we first unveiled the new addition, as soon as Nate got out of the bean box, Pete got in and started digging for a spot to pee. So now, if Nate’s out of the beans, the lid has to be on the box. It’s a little tedious but it’s well worth the lid-on, lid-off, lid-on, lid-off-again routine to make Nate this content!