“Can we open them?” L asked me.
“Where did you find those?” I replied trying to avoid answering his question by asking another question.
One of my boys had been rummaging around in our crowded storage room recently and came upon some old shoe boxes wrapped with construction paper. The paper was faded but it seemed like yesterday that I had gotten those boxes.
They are time capsules. My boys had created them in Kindergarten. It hadn’t been long ago. Nine years ago to be exact. To me that isn’t such a long time ago. But for my boys nine years is more than half of their lifetime. To my boys finding the boxes was like finding buried treasure. They didn’t remember making them. Their contents a mystery to all of us.
“I don’t think you are supposed to open them until you are at least 18.” I tell them.
“Eighteen? Why not now. Let’s just open them!”
I realize that to them it’s an eternity until they are 18. I know this because in talking with them about getting good grades now so they can get into college later comes with nods of affirmation -but my anxiety over it is much greater than theirs. It’s only four short years away. (3 1/2 now but whose counting?). The boys are about the here and now.
So why not just open the boxes now? What difference does it make? Turns out that it makes a big difference to me. I’m not ready to open those boxes yet. I am not sure I can really articulate why. I think I pictured myself opening those boxes while sitting on my bed while the boys were at college. I’d pull out each thing and hold it close and breathe it in to see if it smelled like little kids or like Kindergarten. I am not sure I even considered that these were their boxes and that they should be there when I opened them -or that they should open them themselves. Of course they should. Sure they should.
To me the boxes represent their littleness and a passing of an era of raising kids. I’m not ready for anyone to open those boxes. They are only 14. I’m still raising them. Their smell is still here albeit not the sweetness of littleness -it’s more stinky boy teen but it’s still here. I’m still doing it. Those boxes are for when I’m done. I’m not done.
“No…let’s put them away now. We can open them when you’re 18 …or 21..”
“Twenty one? We will be grown up then!”
Sure you will. You will be grown but not. But you will want to be forging out on your own. I’ll have the boxes full of stuff from a time when you were five and your whole world was a classroom that smelled of paste and paint and hand -sanitizer.
Those Kindergarten teachers are oh so smart. Thinking of a mamas heartstrings so far before the mama does. I wonder how many of those boxes are still sealed shut waiting for their day that they are discovered and opened and their memories spill out making some mama cry for a bit over the memories of their child’s innocence and littleness. Of the days where they would run into your arms when you pick them up from school. Even then you knew those were special moments but could only hold onto them for a second before you had to think about the next thing-homework, some activity, dinner. What we have left are pictures and videos and our memories -and a construction paper covered shoe box filled with little things that will make this mama laugh and cry.
No. I am not done yet. I am still raising these kids for better or worse. I am not ready to open those boxes. It’s not time yet there are so many memories left to make. Just give me four more years …(or a bit longer.)
Thanks for reading…