Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Cardboard Box

That's what a cardboard box can become when left to the creativeness of children.
It can be a boat. Or a car(make/model of their choosing).
It can turn into a house, a condo or a cabin in the woods.
And usually the box does not cost the adult who provides said box anything (except maybe the item that CAME in the box originally).
Provide a box of crayons for the interior decorating, perhaps cut out a window and wa-la a four sided piece of cardboard transforms magically into whatever the inhabitants want it to be!
The other day (after many LONGGGG days of babysitting my two year old grandson) I popped into the Learning Store that I used to work for (and barely broke even with since I usually spent the paycheck on toys). Anyway, I stopped by to say hello and of course check out the fantastic new "learning" toys available. Keep in mind this IS a fantastic store and I just LOVE that everything is educational and age appropriate. As usual my grandson gravitated to a cool toddler marble thingy. I thought to myself....hmmm wonder if this will keep him interested through dinner preparation?? So I bought it.
Yes, he did like it, and other than using the plastic marbles (the size of golfballs) to try and throw at the dog it all and all was a good purchase. Or so I thought until my partner gently reminded me of our commitment to staying in budget...wanting to take a trip...etc etc.
It was then that I remembered, not so very long ago, when we watched my granddaughters quite a bit, that there was no way jose that we could buy toys of any sort. We did always manage to keep unlimited supplies of paper with lots of scotch tape and of course crayons/paints and colored pencils. Those little munchkins could create just about anything with those!
And then of course there was the occasional magical cardboard box. It is amazing to watch children use their imaginations to create whatever they want to be or play with out of a simple cardboard box. We were witness to an indoor lemonade stand, a castle, a grocery store, an office where I visited a "Publisher", who upon reviewing my story wrote out a contract saying "Publesh a children book called William G. Quail yes I WILL!" (I keep that one posted where I can see it near my computer).
Next time I am thinking of purchasing a new toy I just may have to stop by the grocery store first and check out their extra (free) boxes!

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Hole

That's what we called it.
The Hole. 
My trustworthy Chambers Dictionary describes a "hole" as being a noun, a hollow place; a cavity; place of lodging; an animal's place of refuge; or even as a secret room.  It was all of these and more to those of us who felt lucky enough to live in one of the neighborhoods that bordered the empty field that housed The Hole.

Our neighborhood was referred to as the "White Island".  In that part of the LosAngeles burbs back in the 60's I guess our small group of Craftsman homes was indeed surrounded by a sea of, to lack a better phrase "non-whites". What "ethnicity" one was never affected ownership rights to The Hole. On any given day, it was the kids that got there FIRST who could proclaim themselves the winners and official occupants (for the day at least) of The Hole.

Due to school, homework and early dinner hours during the week The Hole would sit uninhabited and quite ignored except for the random crows that would scavenge pieces of dried up peanut butter and jelly sandwiches left behind by the previous occupants. Also, it wasn't quite as fun to stake claim to The Hole when there wasn't anyone to challenge who got there first. Saturday mornings were a totally different story.  If we were lucky...(lucky being whoever got there FIRST) managing The Hole would consume most of our day.  It's one of those things that even if we did not want to spend the whole day in a dirty hole, in the middle of an empty field, keeping a lookout for Hole Snatchers, that is where we would all hang out.  Like it or not.  Boring or not.  And for the whole day.
Bragging, ownership and WE'RE THE BEST rights overruled having fun skateboarding or riding our bikes.
What were we thinking?!

Then one day it finally happened.
We had our eyes opened (or in my case shut) as to how really stupid it was to spend valuable play time claiming and defending this very small piece of real estate.
Let me explain the events that led up to this revelation.
As in every "army" there usually can be found a renegade or two who choose to not follow the rules of war.  Respect to the rules understood by all the parties involved fly out the window when the enemy is disrespected. That is when people can get hurt if there is a retaliation to the disrespect. (am I making any sense here??)
On this particular Saturday morning our renegade soldiers from "The White Island" decided to sneak up to the already occupied Hole and toss in a couple of dirt clods to "show the other neighborhood that although we did not have claim rights to The Hole that morning we wanted them to understand that we were not happy about that status.  Keep in mind this was a random bullying act from two brothers who most likely were just acting out of frustration from extra chores at home or something along that line.  It did not matter why they did what they did, but by doing so a Cry to Arms was sounded. Soon EVERYONE (inhabitants of The Hole and of the White Island) were involved in one of the largest dirt clod/rock throwing fights the Neighborhoods had ever been witness to before.
I was five at the time and quite the peace loving (and curious) little girl so I  just stood by my older brother in a show of solidarity behind a small fence that was being used to deflect the onslaught of rocks and dirt clods.
Being quite curious about anything and everything, when I peeked over the fence to get a good view of the fracas I allowed my person to be momentarily un-protected. That is when I got clobbered in the eye by a rock disguised as a dirt clod.  (those do tend to throw further  and not fall apart in transit).
All flinging of clods, rocks and insults ceased when my older brother yelled that there had been a casualty on our side.  Parents came streaming out of homes wondering what was going on and I was whisked off to the local emergency room to see what the damage was. 
I was lucky.  A good flushing (and many treats) later my bruised only eye and I went home.

We all learned a lot that day.
One being that if you hurt one of her kids my mom will make sure the perpetrator turns over any and all of their paper route money to pay for the damage.
More importantly the Neighborhoods learned to share The Hole, (once everyone was allowed to actually go out and play in the field again).

Sure wish those lessons were as easily learned by everyone everywhere.