I am a proud member of a village that has successfully raised two village people. Somehow they managed to survive bandaged knees and chicken pox, lost lunch money and forgotten field trip permission slips, losing seasons, winning seasons, stage fright, mean girls, puppy love, and broken hearts.
By now we’ve been through the stages of separation necessary for them to go off on their own to do the things that young villagers do. Still, one part of the child-rearing process lingers:
The village is starting to pile up with shoeboxes.
Every time I buy new shoes, I put them neatly on the shoe rack in the closet, and start to break down the box for recycling.
Then I freeze. And a slight panic sets in.
Someone might need this box. . .
You know how that always goes. . .
As soon as you get rid of it, someone will need a shoebox.
After a lifetime — two lifetimes, actually — of looking at shoeboxes as vessels to hold sidewalk chalk, finger paints, scissors, glue, Barbie clothes, baseball cards, rocks (not the pretty ones — the dirtiest, grungiest ones he could find), Happy Meal toys, squirreled away allowance money (we’re certain my son is already well on his way to a secure retirement) and things I’m probably better off not knowing, I can’t look at a shoebox as just a shoebox.
Nor can I reason with my more altruistic self that cutting it down and putting it in the recycling will help the box find its way into serving some other village in some other helpful way.
No, not me.
I look at a shoe box and imagine that at just about 10:30 pm, someone’s going to call to tell me they just remembered that their Social Studies diorama project is due tomorrow morning. You never know.
Maybe they’ll want to paint them and turn them into colorful “bricks” to build a living room fort. You never know.
Or maybe this year they’ll start waxing nostalgic and will want to make a gingerbread village for Christmas. You never know.
And so the boxes pile up, because once you’ve been a responsible member of a village, you understand that it takes a lot of shoeboxes to raise a child.