Thursday, May 15, 2008

Walking Boxes

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.


Kammi Rencher said...

I would have done the same thing. After all, what are regular toys compared to a large cardboard box? Every child should have at least one box hut, castle, cave, submarine, or whatever. :)

Marsha Ward said...

Shirley, I laughed for joy as I envisioned you and your son walking down the street in those boxes. What a wonderful thing for you to do for Michael! Cardboard boxes have provided many happy hours for my kids, and yes, in years past, for me, too.

Anonymous said...

Okay, you are just waaayyyy too funny! I just had such a picture of you getting pummeled by third graders!

One of my very favorite childhood memories is a summer when my dad brought home a watermelon crate, one of the great big round things they used to pile watermelon in at the supermarket. My goodness - how many adventures can one cardboard box take you on? Many - many, many, many! I think if I ever found another one, I'd have to drag it home and put it out on my patio. I'm sure the neighbors wouldn think it was trash, but what do they know!

Terri Ferran said...

I am amazed that your 14-year old would join in! My almost 14-year old wouldn't be caught dead in a box! Wait--that's probably the only way he would be caught in a box! Certainly not walking down the street with his **gasp** Mom!

Alison Palmer said...

Oh yeah, I can see it. You're such a fun mom. We've got the same type of thing going on at our house right now, too. Had to buy a new vacuum. They promptly began rolling around in it, using it as a toboggan on the stairs, hitting each other with it, hiding the dog in it. Had to draw the line on that last one, the poor dog is psychotic enough. Happy playing!