Like most parents I’ve noticed a distinct difference in what my children are exposed to versus what I was exposed to growing up.  In this new age of constant media bombardment, saturation of branding to our children, big box toy stores of goods made overseas, and digital doodads to keep one tuned out for his/her entire adolescence, I thought it fitting to start this series.

In an effort to kick things off, allow me to wax poetic on one of the most simple, accessible, and affordable of playthings… the cardboard box.

Ode to a Cardboard Box  by Kirk Jackson

You arrive at my door full of padding and fluff
Or were used in a move to carry odd stuff.
Maybe you delivered gifts of pure birthday cheer.
No matter. The point is, I’m glad that you’re here.

You start so bland… boxy and brown
Taking up space until I break you down,
But of course the opportunity arises one day
When the little ones have a request during play:

“Make us a castle, with a tall princess tower”
Or “a hideout for me with my superhero power”
“A big one with lots of windows and rooms!”
So to the garage I go where the dusty stack looms.

With box cutter in hand and a roll of good tape
You come back to life with a new improved shape.
With freshly cut edges and reinforced seams
You’ll take on the form of my rascals’ grand dreams.

This time you might be a fast race car or wagon
Or fortress with drawbridge to keep out a dragon,
Perhaps a puppet theater complete with backdrop
Or the station of a choo-choo train’s very last stop.

Cut out the top and two sides to the floor
We now have a convertible with two working doors,
A center hole in the bottom and one more in the top
We’ve now made a pirate ship by inserting a mop,

But no sooner does my son yell “Arrr” & “Ahoy!”
That he’ll want you transformed to Super Robot Boy.
You’ll be colored and painted and folded and bent
And then taken outside to be used as a tent

Sometimes you’re a quiet place for the kids to sit
To quietly contemplate their thoughts for a bit.
But whatever the shape, you still teeter and totter
Even as an outhouse for my potty-training daughter

Oh Box, over your life you’ll wear many new hats,
One day you’ll play this role, then another day that.
We’ll keep you around til they grow tired of you
Then off to recycling to become something new.

But in our photos all the memories live on
Even after your scrappy, paper body is gone.
So no thanks to more toys from online toy shops,
Just give us some time with a big cardboard box.

©2012-2018 Kirk Weston Jackson –