For Will's 18th birthday, all he wanted was clothes, or money for clothes so he could be a new man going to college in the fall. I tried to explain to him that the best clothes for New Orleans in August are probably gauze bandages or a bathing suit, but he isn't listening to me anymore.
Typically frugal, I made him divest himself of old clothes that no longer worked, either to donate or trash based on condition. There was a third pile for clothes he might want to wear when he comes home for break -- if he comes home for break -- and needs something warm or different to bide his time. He went through all diligently piling up clothes or putting away spares. And then from the depths of his closet, he brought out a wooden chest he'd had forever.
One of our neighbors makes jewelry and collects stones. Vic was at some point many years ago trying to dislodge a large couch stuck in his doorway. My husband happened to be walking by and helped him move it. Since then, Vic has been a friend but also like a tooth fairy. He drops off baked goods and he gives me tomatoes from his garden. Vic gave Will some rocks immediately after the couch incident. One was a showy crystal and the other a flat piece that sort of shimmered like shale.
An interesting coincidence these gifts of rocks because as a kid I shared a love of rocks with my Grandpa Fred. I would walk around telling everyone, "I'm going to be a paleontologist."
Will put the rocks away and then some time later he bought a wooden box at a tag sale that became a kind of treasure chest. In it he stashed the crystal and the flat rock. He put marbles he got with my mom. Feathers, coins, a $2 bill my Uncle David gave him. All his little treasures.
He hid this wooden chest away in the back of his closet, which of course I found immediately while doing laundry. But it stayed there for years. Until this year. This year, he decided he didn't need it anymore. The box was just taking up space in his closet.
Now the box is sitting in our guestroom. I emptied its contents including the rocks and other treasures. Now an empty box, it's still a treasure to me. It's a reminder of Will's childhood.
It's a reminder to me of believing wholeheartedly in a world of magical rocks and found feathers and coins from a distant land. Yes, it is time for Will to put away childish things. But I'm keeping the box for that day when he wants to remember rocks and feathers and magic. Or maybe I'm just not ready to put it away.
1 Corinthians 13:11
“When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”