by Shirley Bahlmann
They were big, they were beautiful, and they were in the dumpster. Two huge boxes, big enough to reach from my head to my ankles, sat unappreciated, waiting for their final journey to the dump. How could I let these building blocks of imagination meet such an awful fate? There were castles and rocket ships and secret clubhouses just waiting to be built!
I recruited my big fourteen-year-old son for project "Save-a-Box." We each hoisted one up, up, and over our heads, upside down, so we were looking through little peep holes that were torn along the bottom. Walking with a big box on your head takes some getting used to. By the time we reached Main Street, we were moving at a reasonable pace, and were glad to find the crossing guard willing to hold up his STOP sign so we could cross without worrying about being blindsided by a turkey truck. I thought the most dangerous part of our journey was over, but that was before I decided to take a shortcut through the elementary school yard. That was real danger.
Curious children started squealing and pushing on our boxes, making me stagger to catch my balance. I don't know about you, but falling down is not one of my top ten favorite things to do, and falling down inside a box where I had no option of putting out my hands to catch myself is an even worse prospect.
"Hey, stop pushing us!" I yelled.
There was a moment of silence, then a small voice asked, "Are you Michael's mom?"
"Yes," I answered, claiming parentage of my third grader. Since I'm a minor celebrity at the school, working with producing social skill skits every month, most students know me. Once they knew who the alien box monster really was, the pushing stopped and we survived crossing a street on our own.
A block from home, a stream of wolf cub scouts flowed toward us, parting around the boxes like rocks in a river. Then I saw my son, Michael's, face through my peephole.
"Mom, what are you doing?" he asked, his cheeks turning red.
"Taking these boxes home," I answered.
"What for?" He tried to sound exasperated.
"To play with," I said.
"Whatever," he answered, and walked on to join his den.
When my son got home from scouts, he spent the rest of the afternoon playing in the boxes. I grinned, remembering all my cardboard box adventures, and marked double time on my walking exercise chart.