It doesn’t make noise. It’s not soft. It doesn’t tell any stories. And yet, after all the many thousands of presents lavished upon my daughter the past month, all she loves is one thing. A box.
One big ol’ brown box that just sits in the middle of the living room on its side.
My wife and I didn’t intend to lavish this gift named Box upon our little lady. We got her an easel for her birthday and a play kitchenette for Christmas instead. She likes both a great deal. She thinks they’re pretty cool. But she doesn’t look at them the same way she looks at Box. Her grandparents absolutely buried her in gifts too; things like: books that talk, stuffed animal friends, puppets that pretty much serve as stuffed animal friends, an indoor bowling set and a keyboard floor mat that magically bestows migraines upon the listener. She likes them. She likes them all in fact, but not half as much as Box. The only items in our possession that even come close to Box are the iPad and the TV, which we try to keep out of sight or reach as often as possible. But given the choice, I think my little one would still pick Box. She loves it just that much.
What does she do with Box? Well, she sits in it mostly. Just sits in it. Sometimes she’ll close the lids and then pop out and yell “Boo!” And at other times she’ll bring her stuffed friends in there with her to hold what I have come to believe are very secret, very important conversations. The rest of the time she’s trying to get me to enjoy sitting in there with her. The problem is I don’t fit. I can get my body in there. Kinda. But my legs? No chance. And that frustrates her. She’s always trying to force the box closed around my legs with a “Get in, Daddy!” She won’t let me leave Box either, not that that’s very easy to do for a guy starting to feel the creaks and groans that come with age.
Minor quibbles aside, the idea that a box—something with virtually no cost or effort—could prove a valuable child’s toy is an encouraging one. Why spend the money on all these wacky battery operated whoozeewhatsits when true joy can be attained so easily as a cardboard packing container? Before you empty your attic of dusty old boxes, however, let me warn you that there are some drawbacks.
- Cats love Box too. They’re always sleeping in there. They fill it with fur and a hairball surprise from time to time. They also don’t like to be extricated by a toddling child either, which can lead to a fracas of sorts. Not good.
- Box takes up a lot of space. Ours is almost the size of a large chair, which means it’s not terribly easy to maneuver around, especially when you’re already watching the floor for items that like to bury themselves painfully into your feet.
- Box is ugly. It’s a big fat brown rectangle.
- Box is weak and won’t last. It doesn’t take much to damage Box after all.
Drawbacks aside, Box really has been a welcome addition to our household. It’s taught me a valuable lesson about what kids truly find entertaining and important in their lives. For all the commercials and storefront advertisements imploring you to fork over your hard-earned dollars on gizmos and gadgets that beep and boop, there are simple and free alternatives that offer just as much fun for a child, if not more. The basic things in life really are the most joyous.
To me it all comes down to imagination. Box wouldn’t work without it. Imagination is what turns that big brown box into a cave, a dollhouse, or a pirate ship sailing across the sea. I love the fact that my daughter loves Box so much. It won’t last forever, but I’m sure it won’t be gone for long. Box will be back.
Oh yes, Box will be back.