I think many parents might agree that the unsung hero in this summer’s blockbuster, Guardians of the Galaxy, was Meredith Quill, the mother of Peter Quill.
Moviegoers only got to see Peter’s mom for a short time at the start of a film, but we seemed to learn quite a bit about her from her deathbed. She loved “awesome” music, and used her enthusiasm to not only grow closer to her son, but to make him happy and hopeful when life can throw some nasty curves. She raised a strong-willed and independent kid on her own, despite his dad being an incredibly long way away. Her very last notion before departing this Earth was to feel the simple touch of her son’s hand. Even more than two decades after her death, her memory and strength continued to inspire Peter in the direst of situations. What a great mom!
All parents know the importance of maintaining that connection with their son or daughter, even when they know they might not be physically able to be with them.
Take a tip from Meredith’s playbook, and create something special for your own “Star Lord” with a Peter Quill-inspired care package. This gift will help ease those nerves and fears that can come from a first day at a new school, an overnight sleepover, weekend visits to relatives, or just the rainy day blues.
Start with one plain black backpack or drawstring sackpack and fill it with the following items:
“Awesome Mix” CD
Baby Groot Craft Kit
“Orb” Snackholder and Other Treats
Science Fiction Book or Comic
Troll Doll, Trading Cards, and Stickers
The “Awesome Mix.” The Awesome Mix is an essential item. Anyone not living under an intergalactic rock is aware the actual “Awesome Mix, Vol. 1” is available for purchase, but I suggest giving a homemade mix. Use some favorite songs from the Guardians soundtrack, and add a few that meant something to you as a kid. My mix includes selections, “Come and Get Your Love,” “Cherry Bomb,” and “Spirit in the Sky” from the actual “Awesome Mix,” but I added bands like The Stray Cats, Johnny Cash, The Smiths, Social Distortion, and others from my own childhood. If you’re having a hard time thinking of song ideas, Entertainment Weekly put out a hypothetical “Awesome Mix, Vol. 2″ playlist, and it is actually pretty good. Really, it doesn’t matter what songs are on the disc, as long as it is personal. That’s the beauty of the mix tape.
If your child has their own digital music player, sneak a downloaded playlist onto it, and include a hand-written list for reference.
Baby Groot Craft. Simple craft kits are a good way to enjoy some down-time on trips or at recess, and this “Baby Groot” kit uses only a few materials. There are some pretty realistic-looking “Baby Groots” out there right now, but the point of this craft is for it to be easy enough for a school-aged child to put together on their own.
Place six light brown chenille craft stems (cut in half) in a zip-top bag, with a handful of dark brown pom-poms and a small paper drinking cup. Cut three small slits of black craft foam, and lightly tape them on the bottom of the cup to use for Groot’s face.
To make things simpler on the crafter, fill cut a small Styrofoam square so it fits in the bottom of Groot’s cup. This will make it easier to just stick the end of his stem in the cup. Also, Elmer’s makes school glue in travel sizes (1.25 oz) that will easily fit in the bag.
I recommend making your own Baby Groot first to see how it comes out, and take a picture of it to include with a copy of “Baby Groot Instructions.”
Book or Graphic Novel. I can never pack an overnight or weekend bag for myself without some sort of reading material. Include a copy of one your favorite science fiction novels or graphic novels. If you want to stick with the Guardians of the Galaxy theme, Dan Abnett’s prose novel, Rocket Raccoon and Groot Steal the Galaxy is a fun read for ages nine and older.
To go that extra mile, the official movie site for the Guardians of the Galaxy has a “Make Yourself a Guardian” activity where you can put yourself of your kid in the famous “line-up” image. These can be printed out on card stock and made into cool personalized bookmarks.
Treat-filled Orb. Care packages always have to have treats. A neat way to package some loose treats or small trinkets, is by painting a clear plastic fillable ornament black, and drawing some curvy designs on it using silver 3-D paint. Once it dries, fill it with popcorn, candy-coated chocolate pieces, etc.
Include a couple of bags of healthy treats (raisins, granola, or trail mix), as well as something just for fun that meets your own child’s dietary needs. For some reason, I can see Peter (even the grown-up Peter) really getting into Pop Rocks.
Troll Doll and Trading Cards. Finish off with a few of Peter’s relics from his childhood, as seen in his ship, The Milano. Peter has a favorite orange-haired troll doll, but any discount store troll doll will work. I used a troll-like fairy toy called a Zelf in my example, since they are similar designs. Also shown in Peter’s sleeping area were several retro stickers, such as the iconic happy face and American flag stickers that adorned lockers in the 70s and 80s, and trading cards (Alf, Garbage Pail Kids). I personally can’t stand Garbage Pail Kids, but did include some retro-style Star Wars and Batman designs.
This care package doesn’t have to be limited to these listed items, or even include all of them. Whatever you put in there, remember you don’t have to be galaxies away to let your daughter or son to know they are always close to your heart.