When the school set a matchbox challenge as a fundraiser, I thought that sounded interesting. You needed to fit as many different items in a matchbox as you could. Erm – a match (of course), a hair grip, a safety pin, a button, a coin, a bead… And then I got stuck. What else could fit in a matchbox? (The note accompanying the box helpfully reminded kids not to include bogies or toenail clippings!) You had to fill in your box, then fill in a sheet to say what was in there. There was 25 spaces on the sheet. We wouldn’t need all of those!
But I’d reckoned without our secret weapon. My dad. This is EXACTLY the sort of challenge my dad likes. Within five minutes of getting the matchbox to my parents’ house, it contained 38 items – mainly herbs, spices, petals and leaves of different plants. And the matchbox was still virtually empty.
Spurred on by my dad’s success, the boys, my daughter and I quickly got the figure up to 55 and the matchbox was STILL virtually empty. I was slightly concerned about whether things like cocoa powder, the Coco Pop and the Rice Krispie would survive. I wondered if the box needed reorganising.
‘I think we can get it up to 120!’ said my eldest.
120?! Was he mad?!
I tweeted about the matchbox and Abstract Lucas told me her daughter had won a competition with 72 and did we need any ideas? Her ideas were duly taken on board by me – the least imaginative member of the team – and I felt we were on course to smash 72.
My sister came up with a few ideas, I came up with a few more, my parents came up with a few more… We were edging ever closer to 100. Maybe 120 wasn’t impossible?
We were now determined to win. Sorry, my daughter was determined to win, I meant. So we added the butterfly clip from an earring, a googly eye, a piece of bubble wrap, a piece of tinsel, a cotton bud, an old SIM card, a piece of K’Nex… Worried about the Coco Pop and Rice Krispie at the bottom of the box, I decided to add new ones to the top of the box.
I think my husband made one suggestion, but it was a good one – a photo. The very last thing we put in, when we’d exhausted everything else and the box was getting very full, was a photo of my daughter, so it was the first thing they’d see when they opened it.
And it was item number 120! My son was right, we made it!
Surely nobody could beat that? My daughter was under strict instructions not to tell people how much she’d put in her box or what she’d put in it, beyond the really obvious things. She handed it in pretty late, so nobody could nick her ideas.
And then we waited two whole weeks for the results. It was announced in assembly and my daughter won a £10 voucher. She was very pleased – and so was the rest of the team.
The matchbox made me proud, but what made me most proud?
My daughter decided to use her voucher to buy a present for Grandpa. Without him, she would never have won. What a lovely girl!