Nora and I started a routine 6 months ago, on November 26, 2016. That is the morning she woke up to find her parents missing and Papa Joe and I told her that her baby brother Oliver was arriving! Knowing that we would be taking care of Nora, I had some surprises planned. The first one was a Strawberry Shortcake nightgown and Shopkins slippers. I had a bottom drawer in my bathroom that was empty, so I put the gown and slippers in it for Nora to find when she needed a surprise. She loved that and was more than ready to look in the drawer again the next morning which found a book about a new baby hiding in the drawer. Her parents came home by that afternoon and I thought she might forget the surprise drawer in all the excitement plus another set of grandparents arriving, but she remembered! I had a few more small things to put in the surprise drawer so the routine became a habit.
Six months later, you might call this a tradition! Nora keeps checking and the drawer keeps getting a refill. Not all the surprises are big, and not all of them come from a store. There have been ribbons and buttons, a silk daisy for her dress up box, watercolors to paint with, paintbrushes, yarn pieces to make yarn pictures, craft rhinestone "jewels", and a recycled mint tin for her treasure box. I bought a puppet theater from a friend whose little girls outgrew it with a whole sack of puppets who became surprises one at a time. Once, a bunny who lost his ear appeared in the drawer with his ear sewed back on.
One or two days she forgot to check and I thought the idea was getting old, but she always remembers the next day. It is a simple thing, and gives me a chance to connect with her and talk about it. I have fun thinking of little things to refill the drawer and more fun watching her find them. She comes to tell me thank you and hug my neck. But the thing that makes me smile most is that she has started bringing ME surprises. A tiny rosebud from the garden, something she has found, or one of her drawings. Surprises are good things!