Friday, May 1, 2015

The Box

"Ethan, it's time to get ready for school."

No answer. I'd told him 15 minutes before to go into his room to get dressed.



I went up the stairs and found him in his room, still in his pajamas, lying on his bed and lost in thought.

"Hey, what's going on? We're going to be late. Get ready."

"I caaaan't!"


"I can't stop thinking about Shovel Knight."

Shovel Knight is this game on the WiiU, created with Gen-Xers in mind, I think. It's basically a knock-off of about five video games from Nintendo I remember as a kid. Ethan has had a lot of fun playing it of late.

"Buddy, you have to stop so you can get ready."

"I CAN'T! It's the only thing in my mind."

This was not the first time this issue had come up. Ethan had come home with a half-blank paper from school the week before. When I'd asked him why he didn't do the back side, he said it was because he was tired of school and could only think about coming home to play Shovel Knight.

I thought for a second.

"Okay Eeth, I want you to think of something. Imagine a box, okay? We're going to open the box and put the Shovel Knight thoughts inside. And we're going to lock it up while you're at school, and then as soon as you get home you can open it up again."

His interest seemed piqued. I had another idea. "Get dressed, I want to show you something," I told him.

Downstairs a few minutes later I dug in a toy box and triumphantly pulled out this fishing tackle-sized felt box sized I'd gotten eons ago from some party selling educational kids' toys. It's the type of thing that's supposed to teach your kid to Velcro, zip, button, snap, and so on.

"Here is your box," I said, when Ethan arrived downstairs a few minutes later. "Now, can you put all of those thoughts inside?" I pretended we were extracting them from his brain, then clicked the box shut.

"All locked up," Ethan said, happy at the affirming "click." He went to get his shoes.

In the car, I told Ethan he could pull the Shovel Knight thoughts out of the box for a few minutes, but they had to go back in when we got to school.

Am I naïve enough to think this solved the problem? Do I really think Ethan went the entire day at school without being distracted by Shovel Knight thoughts? Of course not. But maybe we gave him another little tool in his collection to pull out when things get hard.

The more I think about it, the more I'm reminded that Ethan's not the only one who gets hung up in his thinking. How many times to I need to stop perseverating on something, to just put away the ruminating and move on for a little while? I am imaging, those nights when I wake up and toss and turn and wonder and fret...what if I just pictured the box, and placing each concern in it to take out at a more appropriate time (i.e. not 3 a.m., and not when I can't do anything about it)?

Yeah. Maybe I'm the one who needs the box. Maybe helping him, is helping me.

1 comment:

Deenie said...

I would have never thought of that but I'm totally going to steal it and try it with my son. Thanks.