“Coing Coing Coing”

Most mornings our kids’ playroom looks like an ancient Roman bank excavated from the ruins of Pompeii. It’s littered with brittle pieces of clay money; some in stacks, others lying broken on the floor. Considering how decrepit they appear, it’s odd that they once had such immense value.

If there’s one consistent and predictable element in our lives, it’s the existence of a specific activity that magically snaps Arlo out of a tantrum. That magical thing changes often, but thankfully, always exists. Months ago the antidote to a freak-out was Bob The Builder. That slowly morphed into Yo Gabba Gabba, then “eye-pop-pops”(lollipops) and now, somehow, it isn’t a TV show, jingle, or candy. It’s making Play-Doh coins.

Arlo can be belly-flopped on the floor totally flippin’ because one of us put his special sunflower seed on the mantle instead of the storage cube, but if I say, “Who wants to make some coins?” his mood immediately shifts from “This is some serious bullshit” to “Oh, h-to-the-hell yes.” He hops to his feet, wipes the tears from his cheeks and stomps into the New Jersey Mint, chanting, “Coing, coing, coing.”

The routine is always the same. He picks a color, I roll out the Doh, and using Lego pieces, small fake ice cream cones, and empty Play-Doh cans, I press coins of varying shapes and sizes. Arlo peels off the excess, collects his money and places it on the  windowsill to dry. “More coing, more coing, more coing,” he says. I roll out another sheet, then hear Silas from the other room, “Make some coins for me too!” Now there’s competition and the floppy fake cash suddenly has incredible value.

They’re both obsessed with who owns each coin. I try to tell them, “Let’s just share the coins,” which is ridiculous since they can’t both hold the same coin. I try to give them an equal number, but they both want more. Which of them receives the first coin from a new press is a privilege that’s argued with little skill, but great passion. Eventually, Arlo takes a coin that Silas believed deeply to be his, then, while looking blankly into my eyes, Silas snatches the coin back from his brother, resulting in a small meltdown. Meanwhile, the coin has been destroyed, and now neither of them can afford to buy that fine summer goose, or pay the blacksmith for the silver-bladed smiting swords they ordered during the last snowfall. Sorry, I think Game of Thrones starts again soon.

The only solution is to make more coins until they’re both happy, or lose interest. Welcome to my entirely unintentional experiment in toddler capitalism. I just keep printing money until everyone has everything they could possibly want, because if I don’t bailout A.I.G., my two little investment bankers will go crying to their Mom (the President) to give them more coins. The prez will walk in casually and say, “Why can’t you just make more coins?” and I’ll try to explain, but eventually realize no one cares, and quietly make more coins until none of them have any value. Now a simple leg of mutton costs 7 blue squares, 3 giant red circles, and 4 small tan circles. It’s no wonder people are starving. I need to keep an eye on inflation.

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Angela C says:

That's how I get my son to eat carrots- I cut them into coins. And when he is really resistant, I put them in a little dish and let him eat them during his bath. There is something so appealing to him about eating when he is in the bathtub. Kids are funny.

kate says:

Someone told me recently that unless youbring your A game with a toddler you might as well sell them to the gypsies. You seem to bring it.

Abigail says:

Bwahaha. I tell my children constantly that I'm going to sell them to gypsies. They think it's completely ridiculous, since they probably think we are gypsies. We've moved eight times in the last five years.

Bella49 says:

Oh good, will try this as the magic solution to end tantrums. It used to be Thomas the Tank Engine, then Bob the Builder and now it's Shaun the Sheep. But I see signs of that coming to an end too. "Little skill, great passion" – should put that on a t-shirt

adequatemom says:

Ahhh hilarious … "argued with little skill, but great passion" is an EXCELLENT phrase for any conversation with a preschooler/toddler. Yep, sounds like my life!

Candace says:

Whew, so glad there really is life after 365!! Love this post btw

Kate says:

SO, you let the play doh dry out on *purpose*? Hmmmm…I'll have to think about this….

Caitlin says:

whew, you're still here. Loved this one.

Jill W. says:

Love this post.

Katie says:

My 2-year-old son also loves Play-Doh "coings" and his have animals on them. He think the bear "coings" are the bomb-diggity.

Corrin says:

A double layer of play doh so two coins are pressed simultaneously? An "A" stamp and an "S" stamp (since sharing is right out)? Earplugs for the mint laborer? I love the "little skill, but great passion" observation, and glad to read on after 365!

Stacey says:

Even after all the "wonderful" Arlo stories, I still secretly hope my son is as cool as Arlo someday.

Scott says:

Beware the Quantitative Easing – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PTUY16CkS-k

Jody says:

I bought "coing" making supplies today :)

Rebecca says:

just finished reading this, then went back to Facebook, where I find a conversation referencing "baby bipolar mode." Think you can relate to that?