box

Tin Bath TubCCI06282012_00022_editeddaIn the days before running water in homes, people had to go to river to bath, or bring water into the house from the river, creek, or well, and heat it on the stove so the family could bathe. Since families were usually large, the whole process took time, and heating water over and over again was not really feasible. What that meant was that the family pretty much all bathed in the same bath water. For the last guy, that had to be…well, disgusting, but that was the way it was done back in the old west, and even in more recent times when there was no running water in homes. For the little kids, however, I seriously doubt if it mattered. Getting wet was getting wet, and it really just didn’t matter what the water looked like…at least to the little boys. Girls might have felt differently. I think I would have.

Personally, if I had a river or creek available, I think I would use that…in the summer anyway. Then again, there is very little privacy in a river or creek…and you can’t exactly put up a curtain around a river. I can’t really imagine how they lived that way exactly. I guess in that way I’m a modern girl, and don’t try to take my shower away from me. Maybe that’s why Bob and I don’t go camping…no running water, or if there is, it’s very inconvenient. As I have said before, I love hiking and being outdoors, but I like the modern conveniences of a hotel room afterward.

Of course, when homes got running water, bathing in an old tin bath tub went the way of all things old west. Nevertheless, for babies…it doesn’t matter if they are bathing or just playing in a bucket, pan, or clothes Lazy QuincyAmy in a Shoe Boxbasket. Kids just like to play in them. I don’t think there is anything so amazing about that, like a throwback to the old west days of bathing in a barrel, but rather that kids just like finding different places to play. Things like an old box, barrel, or clothes basket are perfect. In that way, they remind me of cats. If you have ever watched a cat, you will find that they see a space, and if it looks fairly close to a good fit, in they dive. Babies tend to be that way too…but, the thing that is the funniest about that is when the baby tries to fit into a box that is seriously too small. Nevertheless, it’s a baby or cat thing.

Girls in a BoxOver the years, my girls, Corrie Petersen and Amy Royce have made use of boxes for lots of things. In fact, like most kids, they have used boxes in every way imaginable. They have taken the gifts out of the box and set the gift aside, before playing in and with the box. Boxes have been their forts, playhouse, hiding place, storage for their treasures, and many other uses. It is an age old tradition that kids have played in and with boxes for as long as there have been boxes big enough for kids to get into.

My daughter, Amy went so far as to try sitting in a shoe box that had been used to wrap a Christmas gift. She was too big for the box to say the least, but that didn’t phase her a bit. That box usage was the funniest one I can think of. Amy was always a teeny little girl, but she was still too big for that little shoe box. Nevertheless, watching Amy try to get into that Amy in a Shoe Box box, knowing that it was too small, was very funny. She was so determined to get into it, and it never occurred to her that she was too big.

With all the uses kids have found for boxes, I am amazed that I can still be surprised by the use someone has come up with for a cardboard box. One of the greatest ideas I have ever seen is the coloring box. Now I don’t mean a box to keep your coloring supplies in. I mean that you put the kid in the box and Turk then loose with the crayons. They can’t color on the walls, because they are inside a box. It gives meaning to coloring inside the lines. We try to get our kids to color carefully so they work with them and work with them, but really until that kid is ready to color inside the lines.

The cool idea about coloring inside a box is that it doesn’t make a mess. The mess stays in the box, where it imagedoesn’t mess up the paint on your walls, or the carpet on your floors. The other cool thing is that the kids have a great time, because coloring inside a box, and coloring the inside of a box are something totally different to do. It’s almost like coloring on the walls, except that they don’t get into trouble for it. It almost seems like a crazy thing to do, and after all, aren’t kids all about doing things that are crazy. As for the parents…well, they are heroes, because they found something for the kids to do that almost seemed like it was something that was not allowed. I mean, you wouldn’t let your kids write on the walls, but the walls of a box, is allowed. It makes the kids feel like they got away with something…well, maybe not, but it’s fun anyway.

imageimageOne year ago today, we received a new little addition to the Schulenberg family. Little miss Reagan could have arrived on her mommy’s birthday, and in fact maybe she tried, but she wasn’t quite fast enough, and so they each have their own birthday…one day apart. I also, have to think that was probably the last time Reagan was too slow about anything. Babies have a way of growing up way, way too fast, and as they grow, they also get their teeth too fast, crawl too fast, and walk too fast. Before you know it, they are in school, driving, dating and married and having kids of their own. Whew!! It’s enough to make you get winded.

Reagan looks so much like her daddy, that it is like they are twins, but she got her silly personality from her daddy and her mommy. Reagan makes the funniest faces, and has from the time she was just teeny, but lately she has been making some new faces. Things like trying to wink, the “who me, I didn’t make this mess” look, and the “here mommy, you eat it, if it’s so good” look, are just a few of the looks I have noticed. I think that as time goes on, we will be treated to many more of the silly looks that our miss Reagan can make.

Reagan, like many other kids, likes to take the things that are stored in a box out of the box, so she can get in the box. She reminds me of my kids and my grandson, Chris. All of them loved playing in boxes…after the contents have been removed…I mean, who needs the toys or books Reagan - 11 months oldimagethat were in the box anyway. Reagan is getting to that age where getting into things is what she is all about. And her funny faces still play a part in all that…like, “I’m sure I don’t know what you are talking about!! I wasn’t getting into anything!!” She has a side to her that is very easy to see. I can tell that this little girl will be just as sweet as she can be…with a big helping of mischief on the side. Today is Reagan’s first birthday. Happy birthday Reagan!! Have  an extra special day!! We love you!!

Brian PulsipherBrian, who is the 14 month old son of my cousin, Alicia and her husband, Jordan, is a curious little boy, not unlike most boys his age. I am always amazed at the things that catch the eye of little kids. Things we adults would most likely never notice, seem somehow special and interesting to them. Add to that, the fact that Brian is a boy, and you will find that the things that will interest him will be the bug, worm, or as in Brian’s case…the toad.

While taking in some fresh air and sunshine in their back yard, Brian came upon his first toad. He pointed at it and said, “Mom! This?” Either he was asking her what it was, or wanted her to look at it, and it doesn’t really matter, because it is just the Brian Pulsipher's  toadbeginning of his boyhood curiosity, and this is a question Alicia will hear over and over again. I told Alicia that her days of finding toads and other such friends in her son’s pants pocket were probably not too far off. It does make me thankful that I had daughters, although my grandsons broke me in on the various items in their pockets and in their hands. Some, I would rather not think about!!!

As I looked at the picture of the toad, my mind went back to when I was a kid. I remember hunting for toads too. And I remember having one that was in a box, but I am quite certain that I would never have picked up that toad, so maybe one of my male cousins put it in the box for me, or maybe my memory is of looking at a toad in a box that belonged to one of my male cousins. Whatever my memory The Pulsipher familyof the toad was, I do remember touching the toad…briefly. Its skin was rough and scratchy. I also remember thinking that it was odd that the toad didn’t try to get away from my touch…almost like they enjoy that touch, like a cat does.

Little Brian is just beginning his years of curiosity about the animal kingdom, and it is my guess that he will have many more memories of that type than I ever did, since I tried very hard to stay as far away from bugs and amphibians as I could. If Brian is the boy I expect that he will be, he will try to be around them much of his young life…until he discovers girls, that is.

Kids have always loved playing in boxes and most of us can attest, and some kids can really get carried away with boxes. When the box becomes more important that the item in the box, you know that your kid is one of those kids. Of course, this is something kids just do when they are little, and it doesn’t last very long, so it is something you should smile about while you still can.

Sometimes, they are so infatuated with the box that you start to wonder if you should just wrap that up instead, because they would have more fun with it. Of course, clothes are always a good option, because they can get rid of those pretty quickly and then they are left with the box. Cool, in their opinion…and maybe in yours too.

My youngest daughter, Amy was one of those kids who really loved to play in boxes and with boxes. For whatever reason, it fascinated her. She liked to put things in the boxes just to see if they would fit, or get in the boxes and play. Seriously, who needed toys. Just give Amy a box. Birthdays and Christmas were great fun for her…even if it wasn’t her birthday or her present. And nobody had to fight with her over their gift, just hand her the box.

It is kind of sad these days, at least while children are little, that most gifts come in bags, because you can’t really play with a bag in the same way. In fact, it ends up looking just like wrapping paper, which oddly, doesn’t hold much interest for the kids. I would think they would love to rip it up and make noise with it, but they just don’t.

One of the funniest times concerning a child in a box however, was the Christmas that Amy was 1 1/2. She was really into the whole playing with boxes thing, but have no idea how big a box needed to be to hold a kid. Someone had opened a gift, and given Amy the box, and after playing with it for a while, she decided to sit in it. Well, as most of you know, Amy was and is a pretty small girl, and at 1 1/2, she was about the size of a 6 month old baby. That didn’t really help matters very much, however, when she decided that she could fit in a shoe box. It was a fact that simply escaped Amy, and I’m not sure she would have cared anyway, because, what mattered is that even if she did overflow a little, she found a way to sit in that shoe box. I mean, that is what boxes are for…right!!

Little kids are so curious. They are always checking out hidden spaces or hiding places to see what might be there. What we completely disregard, holds a special place of interest for them. It’s funny that you can have a toy right beside them, and they are more interested in the box, or what is under the table next to the toy. Maybe it is about places they can fit in, or maybe it is about Peek-A-Boo.

Kids learn the little games so quickly. Of course, Peek-A-Boo is a game that teaches the little ones that you will come back to them, if you have to leave for a time. They don’t know that is what they are learning, but it really is. Trust is such an important part of being a baby. They have to feel ok about the person holding them, and that is not always easy, because sometimes the person holding a baby is not much bigger that the baby is. Babies love that strong secure feeling that usually comes from being held close by an adult, who knows what they are doing.

When you think about it, placing yourself completely in the hands of someone else would be hard. That is obvious in the way that a baby will immediately cry when moved from the secure arms of an adult into the uncertain arms of a sibling that is about 2 years older that they are themselves. I guess I wouldn’t feel so safe in that situation either. But, with just a little support from Mommy or Daddy, being held by a young sibling suddenly isn’t so scary.

Kids do learn very quickly that their parents can be trusted to take care of them, and that it’s ok to go hide, because Mommy and Daddy will be there when they come out from under the table, out of the box, or when they take their hand away from their eyes. It’s all part of learning to live in this world, and for the most part, the games are about having fun, while learning. What baby doesn’t giggle with delight when they peek out from under that table to see the smiling face of their mommy or daddy? It’s a learning game, and one they all love to play.

If you were ever a kid, you have played this one…the secret clubhouse.  Ours was located in the attic of my parents garage. It was enclosed so we could walk around, provided we were careful not to step between the rafters and thereby through the floor.  We spent a lot of time up there in the secret clubhouse…friends and sisters alike. It was just a great hangout. Of course, we had to have a president, vice president, and secretary/treasurer. Not that any of these positions really had any kind of an official job, except possibly the secretary part. She had to take the minutes of the meetings. Not that much ever happened at the meetings, besides maybe deciding on the treats for the next meeting. The main thing I remember about the offices of our secret meetings is that the names of the officers were written on the walls of the attic. They are probably still there to this day.

Secret club meetings can be held in a variety of places, because lets face it, not everyone can meet in the attic of their garage. Some are held in bedrooms, some outside…sometimes in a box, and some even in spare bathrooms…anywhere that kids can hide from the rest of the world and spend a little time in a fantasy world. They might pretend to be spies, which I know we did, or they might play school, which always strikes me as funny, since they don’t seem to want to go to school in real life. I’m not sure what makes it different in the world of make believe, except maybe the recess is a lot longer. Or they might even plan a play to be presented to their parents…or the neighborhood…for a fee, of course, since the dues weren’t ever really enough for the treats needed at the meetings. Thank goodness for mom or grandma for providing the necessary treats for the meetings, but our goal was always to be able to make that all important trip to the store to get special treats.

My girls had their secret club meetings, as did my grandchildren. It was always fun to watch them…from a distance, of course…no adults allowed you know, and remember when that was me, my sisters and friends holding our secret meetings and planning whatever it was that was on the agenda that day. I would love to show you pictures of those meetings, but everybody knows that there are no cameras allowed in the secret club meetings!! It just isn’t done. In fact the only evidence of secret club meetings is a few scattered and discarded notes, and maybe some empty dishes to point out the fact that the secret members were here. And once the cleaning lady came through, no evidence at all.

Kids have such a fascination with boxes. They would almost rather play with the box than it’s contents…provided, of course, that the box is big enough to hold the kid. I’m sure I was the same way, but I don’t recall just what the fascination was. Maybe it was like a secret hiding place, but it never seems to stay a secret, and the kid doesn’t seem to want to stay hidden. They want to be noticed.

It could be that it just strikes them as goofy, which would make sense, because while I don’t know about your kids, my girls loved being goofy and giggly. Being inside a box was always something that they enjoyed, so maybe I should have skipped the gift, and just found a box. And it didn’t even have to be a gift…in fact most often wasn’t, that provided the perfect box. Usually it was some appliance or some other such thing, and just as soon as the item was unpacked, the question started…”Can we have the box?” And they would be off and running on their adventure.

I kind of think the main reason kids like boxes is that they are cozy, and a sort of a place of their own. Like a play house, they climb in and just sit there, because there usually isn’t much room to move. So they look at each other and laugh, or look at you to see if you can understand their secret delight. And of course, if you would just take a picture, they would be thrilled, because moments like these are meant to be saved on film.

And just in case a box was unavailable, it really wasn’t a problem, there are always ways around that problem. Just turn a kid loose with a clothes basket, and you were good. This isn’t something that is unique to any generation either, as any parent or grandparent would know. Every kid just loves it!

 

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