It was time to open presents at a children’s birthday party that I recently attended when I was suddenly struck by something that I witnessed.
The celebrant, a newly turned 5-year-old, had saved the biggest present for last. He proceeded to rip the wraps in the glee of the moment, unveiling the biggest toy I had ever seen: A battery-powered, child-scale SUV, big enough to comfortably seat four small children (with cup holders).
I didn’t get my first car until I was 17.
With the same excitement displayed by the children, the happy parents took the ‘toy’ outdoors where the city’s newest driver went on to destroy his mother’s flower garden.
The parent’s reaction: Look, it’s got off-road capabilities!
During my childhood, the only thing I needed was a cardboard box big enough for me to crawl inside.
In mere moments, I had a brand new fort. When repelling enemy forces turned tiresome, the box became a time machine. When the time/ space continuum lost its luster the box transformed into a spaceship. When negotiating with Martians turned uninspiring, the box was suddenly a boat. When navigating the high seas proved to be a lesser challenge, my playmates and I would find a grass slope and we’d take turns riding the box down the hill.
This would go on and on all day, every day. The only limitation to our play was our own creativity.
Flash forward to the present day: There I stood in my friend’s backyard watching his kid go monster truck on a bean patch. Within ten minutes, the child grew weary of his new ride and abandoned it where it was.
As he ran past me, I patted him on the head and longed for my cardboard box.
Maybe there was still enough imagination left in it to share with the birthday boy.