Here is a little story of how a purple-haired Funko Pop figure, an iPad, social media, and a little bit of imagination has helped keep some positivity and fun in my kids’ busy lives.
One of the things I didn’t realize before I became a parent was that you maintain this supernatural connection to most of your kids’ emotions.
When they are proud of overcoming obstacles, you feel that burst of pride as well. When they are hurting or sad, your heart can’t help but break. And when they feel just overwhelmed and tired, it can take an emotional toll on you as well.
I now know why my friends who have adult children living in other cities always have this small sense of connection. They can be far away in miles, but never far away in that connection.
I still have both my kids at home. The oldest is living with us to save money during college, but I get to see her juggle a constant workload of classwork, labwork, homework… and part-time job work. As a result, she is often tired, frustrated, worried about not being “good enough” to achieve her goals, and sometimes just feels like she wants to give up. That can make me feel helpless as a parent.
At some point, you have to let them fight their battles, and you aren’t equipped to”fix everything.” I want to make things better, at least in small ways. I want to feel her happiness and contentment again. I want her to smile and laugh so I can laugh with her.
It is that laughter and her fantastic sense of humor I want to support in her life, so I found a quirky little way to do that.
My daughter has been exceptionally diligent about saving her money, but every now and then she allows herself an indulgence. One of those recent purchases was a seven-figure Funko Pop BTS “Butter” set. It has become one of her favorite things and maintains a prominent spot on her windowsill.
What’s funny about a seven-piece set is that you may not notice when one is missing, as when the “JK” (Jung Kook) moved, seemingly on his own, to Mom’s desk. She didn’t notice it at first. My daughter has a “bias” towards the three rappers in the band, Suga, RM, and J-Hope, so poor little Jung Kook hangs out at the far end. That is until he started “wandering” on occasion to pay Mom a visit.
So started the “Adventures of Little Jung Kook.”
At first, it was a simple case of hiding out in different parts of the house. He’ll be in the kitchen one day, and then maybe a week later he finds another friend to hang out with. Sometimes he is looking for food or just wants to celebrate a special occasion. He even developed his own personality, completely unrelated to his real-life counterpart. All similarities are coincidental, I admit. Lil’ JK is very curious and ready to try new things. He’s a bit attention-starved. He sometimes gets his feelings hurt, and he can’t understand why “those rappers” get all the attention. He has an ego but isn’t mean-spirited. He wants everyone to be his friend. He’s also often hungry and likes to show up at mealtime. Luckily, he likes to try all kinds of food.
A couple of weeks ago, I started posting his little “adventure” photos on social media. First, it was just a photo of where little Jung Kook was hanging out with a short explanation. Then, they became multi-photo stories with a couple of elementary school-level props and emojis added. My youngest daughter even helped me with a couple of them.
The reaction from my oldest was always worth the effort (which honestly only took about 15 minutes of my time). Sometimes she would simply laugh and tell her little friend he needs to rejoin his group. Other times, she said he could hang with me through dinner. Most importantly, she was smiling and even laughing at the pranks.
Now, I’m thinking of more funny situations I can place Jung Kook in, along with a few of his little well-dressed pals. We have somehow amassed a plethora of Funkos from other worlds, so the possibilities are vast. I think I’m having as much fun putting them together as my daughter is discovering them.
I’ve even thought about giving Little JK his own Instagram feed, but I’m holding off. As much as I enjoy the feedback from friends and family, I’m really not doing it for them. I am doing it for one thing: my daughter’s laughter.
Often, I will do this when she has had a difficult week or situation, or when there is a special inside joke I want to share. Little JK will make an appearance (or disappearance) somewhere in the house.
Just a matter of moving a little vinyl figure around the house, often with the addition of a silly hat, has become something both my daughters not only appreciate but also look forward to. No, it hasn’t made her life less hectic or frustrating, but it has kept her remembering she is loved.
Every child needs this type of encouragement, even grown-up kids. Whether it is a little joke, a periodic note (text or snail mail) for no reason, or another simple gesture of encouragement and fun, let your kids know you are there for them.
We can’t change or control the situations our kids experience as they grow older as much as we would like, but we can let them know they are still the most important parts of our lives.
If they can’t find laughter, fun, and love in their own home, they certainly will have a hard time discovering if it exists elsewhere.
Thank you, Little JK, for giving us a stepping-stone to do that.
Our little army and I “Purple” you, too.