katie’s clues


I usually don’t let this much time pass before telling you about something. Typically, if I haven’t gotten around to it in a week and a half, it ain’t gonna happen. But I’m determined to tell you about this. In part because it was kind of awesome and I really want to remember it later. And in part cause it might just be helpful to someone else. But mostly, if I’m being honest, I want to share it because I’m pretty damned proud of us for coming up with it. And by us, I mean me.

For Brooke’s birthday, my dad bought her (and us, cause, well, yeah) tickets to the circus. As you might remember, he and his bride were here with us for the big day, so it was extra special because they had the chance to present the gift themselves. Which also presented a huge dilemma.

You see, the gift was tickets. To an event. In the future.

You with me?

The question was, how on earth would we present something wholly conceptual in a way that would not only make sense to her, but might actually get her excited?

And then it hit me. We had a plan.

Katie and I headed off to iParty in search of supplies. An hour and a half and a life-size cardboard cut out of Sheldon later, we had what we needed. Yeah, seriously, she used her birthday money to buy this ..



Yes, my child now has a 6’2″ Sheldon in her room and he scares the crap out of multiple times a day.

Moving on.

On the morning of the big day, we prepped my Dad and Grandma N and got our props ready to go. I fired up the video camera, and Katie did her thing.

“Hey, Brooke,” she announced, “do you know what your present from Papa and Grandma N is?”

“No,” said Brooke, looking around as if she’d missed a memo.

“They’re sending you somewhere!” said Katie gleefully. “But we’re not going to tell you where. We’re gonna play Katie’s Clues to figure it out!”

Brooke LOVES Blue’s Clues. And she really, really loves the episode where Joe takes control and declares it Joe’s Clues. This was right in her wheelhouse.

“Okay, Katie,” she said happily. And, with that, we were off.

Note: Since I was busy videotaping / participating in the show, the following pictures were taken ex post facto.

First, there was this ..


We found Katie’s first clue (the hand-shaped chip clip, which was a lucky find at the Supermarket) on this Big Top shaped cup. We wrote it down in our Handy Dandy Notebook.

Next up, there was this, though at the time it was my face in the hole (trust me, hers is cuter, even though she doesn’t look thrilled in this picture because, in a perfect act of parental irony, I asked her to take a break from watching Blue’s Clue’s to snap it.)


A clue! A clue!

The Daredevil went into the notebook.

So what do we have so far?

A Big Top and a Daredevil.

Hmm, I wonder where you could be going for your birthday?

Let’s see what the last clue is!

Katie disappeared behind the dining room door for the transformation, and then returned as the very last clue for our Handy Dandy Notebook …


A Clown!

So there we had it. Our three clues.

It was time for the … Thinking Chair!

We headed into the den, piled into the comfy chair, and put our three clues together.

A Big Top.

A Daredevil.

And a Clown.

“Hey, Brooke,” Katie asked, “Where do you think Papa and Grandma N are sending you for your birthday?”

“The circus!” she shouted.

And then of course, we sang.

“We sat on down, figured it out, what Katie’s Clues were all about. Wow, you know what? We’re really smart!”

And that, my friends, is the story of how, in a fleeting moment of genius, we figured out how to successfully present a totally abstract present to a concrete kid.

(And have a ton of fun in the process.)

The end.

P.S. I couldn’t have done any of this without Katie. Well, I could have, but I would have just looked really silly and it wouldn’t have been any fun. Katie, if you’re reading this, please know how grateful your mama is, from the bottom of my heart, for you. For the fact that you’ll go along with my silly schemes, that you’ll still spend a Saturday roaming the aisles of iParty with your mama, and that it will feel like a party when you do, that you are willing to go to such lengths for your sister, that you somehow convinced me that using your birthday money to buy a 6’2″ tall Sheldon was a good idea, that you are in this world. I’m just .. grateful.

Really the end.

28 thoughts on “katie’s clues

  1. I love this, I love her, and I love love love how in tune your whole family is with each other.
    And that Sheldon is perfection. And it would probably scare the heck out of me every day too.

  2. GENIUS. Daniel has received tickets to many things lately (because he is impossible to buy for!) and he always just looks at them blankly. We KNOW he’ll enjoy it later (like Beauty in the Beast on STAGE) which he still talks about, but it is anticlimactic at the time. I love this. (and I possibly love the giant Sheldon even more!)

  3. My favorite thing about autism is the way it makes my lovely Alex who he is. But a close second is being part of a community that includes the Wilson family and all the awesome people who gather here around you.

  4. I would like an explanation of the giant Sheldon some time. We, too, watch Big Bang…our son’s social prags teacher likes to show clips of Sheldon as examples of what NOT to do, and the big lug grows on you over time. They never say Sheldon has Asperger’s, but really, it takes one to know one, and he’s one of ours…

  5. Thank you so much for sharing this. It was really awesome, and it really may help us someday, especially with our own brown-eyed, dark-haired, gorgeous girl who also happens to love Blue’s Clues! The possibilities are endless!

  6. Awesome as always!! You guys are too cool! Everyone gave my girl money for her birthday …for expensive swimming lessons…it was hugely anticlimatic….I need to step up the creativity next year…because she is so hard to buy actual gifts.for!

  7. Katie has a fan for life in me and probably an army of us who will help her out if needed without a moments hesitation. Not just b/c she rocks the big sister role, but b/c at her core she’s a genuine and beautiful person. Great story, Great idea, Great writing! Thank you.

  8. Oh, I don’t know. I think your face is pretty cute…..and, of course, Katie is wonderful. I am sure she has her moments, but, over all, she sounds wonderful.

  9. Now if you can come up with a way to get my boy to not be afraid of butterflies, I’ll think you’re a real genius.

  10. Fabulous. Love the innovative thinking. We got Disney tix for Christmas this year and it was hard to explain to my son that we could go anytime he wanted with them *passes* (we live close enough for it to be worth it). It wasn’t until we had gone at least twice that it seemed to make sense to him that we could come back whenever, although he just wants to go to DisneyQuest (the video game “park”)

  11. This is such an awesome idea and especially how her sister was happy to help. The love of siblings is so special and your girls have it!! Happy Birthday to Brooke indeed!!!

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