Our Growing Starfish Problem

It started so innocently.

A few months ago, we implemented a behavior chart to work on some issues we were having.  Daniel’s first reward for earning a certain number of stars (30) was the return of his train table, removed to our upstairs bonus room due to repeated bad behavior. Ask me how much I enjoy carrying that table upstairs and back down again while managing not to destroy it, fall down the stairs or curse out my husband.

behavior chart

The Behavior Chart

We needed a reward for the times when the train table had not been removed though.  Something simple.  One reward was a train we had set aside from the holidays.  Another reward was a new book.  About the same time, Daniel’s day care class studied the ocean and ocean creatures, and he became infatuated with starfish.  Charmed, we found a stuffed starfish on Amazon and that became another reward for reaching 30 stars.

Pleased with his new starfish, Daniel requested another one.  A purple one specifically (it’s his favorite color).  The frantic Googling began. We found a dog toy.  A cat toy stuffed with cat nip.  Um, no. Amazon let us down that time, so I turned to the next logical source: Etsy.

Unsurprisingly, there were several stores hawking stuffed starfish.  I scrutinized each one for suitability, vetoing all of them except one store. He made stuffed sea creatures, including hats and Christmas tree ornaments.  He had adorable mini starfish. He didn’t have one in purple, but I messaged him, and he said he could do it.  He emailed me color samples. We ordered three: one in the desired purple and two more in blue and red for back up.  It was easy.  We had the new starfish a few days later.

Daniel was thrilled with his new purple starfish and named him “Flynn.”  As we had suspected, he asked for more starfish.  Pleased with ourselves for ordering two more, we rewarded him with each one as he reached 30 stars on his chart. Eventually, we had Mommy Starfish and 3 baby starfish.

Then he asked for more starfish in different colors.  I returned to my dealer and ordered 3 more in green, orange and yellow. In due time, Daniel was rewarded with those three as well. Now we had 6 baby starfish and 1 mommy starfish.  Daniel made up a language for them, and they speak in a high-pitched, shrill voice.  Last night I told Jimmy that “this is what it sounds like when starfish cry.”

Daniel soon asked for another starfish, in white this time.  Again, we decided it was better to buy in bulk and I returned to my dealer to buy neutrals this time: white, gray and tan.  Last week, Casper the white starfish joined our family.  Last night, Mavis the gray starfish joined.  We have one more to go.

I’m afraid we’re running out of colors. I envision starfish covering his bed, lounging in the “ocean” as he calls the blue blanket on his bed.

Starfish are kind of creepy.  Thanks to our new starfish book, I learned they have no eyes or nose and only a mouth.  They surround their prey and pry open its shell to eat it. They regenerate their arms when they lose one (that’s been fun to explain to Daniel.  We hope he doesn’t attempt to observe it by removing one of his starfish’s arms).  They seem to be the definition of form over function.

But Daniel loves them.  Apparently Mommy Starfish mated with Daddy Whale to produce them.  He takes one or two to day care with him every day.  They make him happy.  So we put up with our increasing starfish population, and I’m grateful to have a dealer in California who can make and ship them quickly.

stuffed toy starfish

Our burgeoning starfish colony minus the newest one. So cute, aren’t they?

Now, for a few links:

Now I have to figure out what I’m serving with lamb for Easter tomorrow.  Any ideas? I’d like to do something different from what I usually do, but I suspect it will end up being green beans of some sort, garlic-rosemary mashed potatoes and something else.  We are creatures of habit.

PS: I’m feeling a lot better about the work situation this week.  I think it will be OK, and I’m starting to feel excited about the possibilities.  Change is hard and sucks, but we’re all working hard to make sure we are still able to collaborate. I feel a wee bit less diminished than I did. At least this week.

Have a great Easter!


  1. Lol, I love it! We have about a dozen stuffed kitty cats. I feel ya. I think I might make Abby a starfish. 🙂

    We’re having asparagus, no green beans this year! Happy Easter!

  2. First, oh the rewards I later regret. We tried to keep our rewards cheap – extrabedtime story, bonus library book or trip, but we now owe an overnight camping trip… Second, I need to learn to properly code. What’s a good strategy? Community college class? Book? Somewhere on the internet?

  3. I love the starfish problem! Too funny! Maybe they will start coming in tye-dye colors. 😉

    Glad that things are feeling better at work this week.

  4. How funny! We use a chore chart too and have noticed it’s helped with behavior and following routine (like when he stalls around bedtime and we remind him he won’t get his star if he doesn’t get moving). Our rewards have been a mix of small things (sticker books, toy car, etc), places/events (dino egg hunt last weekend with friends), and our current reward – he’s earning $1 each week for spending money at Disney next month. Will be curious to hear if you starfish collection starts to take over his room. 😉

Please Talk to Me: My Husband Can Tell When I Haven't Had Any Conversation All Day

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s