Playing in the sandbox

“I think when I was two years old in the sandbox. I think I formulated my basic philosophy there, and I haven’t really had to alter it very much ever since.” – Boyd Rice

My oldest son has been out of the house for almost five years, leaving home for basic training. Not too long after that, he got married, bought a house, and eventually faced a deployment. He also got to experience other “grown-up” realities, like budgeting, running a household, mourning the death of his wife’s grandmother – whom he just adored, and then mourning the loss of his own grandfather.

A boy when he left, he has grown into a fine young man. Of course, my heart bursts with pride for him, and for where life has taken him.

I love that he calls home to bounce ideas off of us; to ask questions and lay his concerns about life before us. Just recently I remembered something he said to me about a year ago at a particularly rough time.

“I wish I could just come home and go play in the sandbox.”

The sandbox his dad made was his and his siblings’ favorite spot to play. There were Hot Wheel cities, bridges made of sand and sticks, hand-carved paths for flowing rivers – which were then filled with several buckets of water. The kids and their friends would play outside in the sandbox for hours on end.

We have a shared memory, as I fondly remember the sandbox my dad had made for my siblings and me. The stuff we built and the fun we had. We, too, played for hours at a time.

A sandbox is a refuge for kids. Close your eyes and imagine the soothing feel of the sand as it is running through your fingers; or the sensation of squeezing the sand between your toes; or the therapeutic process that takes your mind off your troubles while you are busy building a sand castle.

“I wish I could just go play in the sandbox” has become our saying when life gets tough. I’ve repeated this wish to him during many conversations we’ve had regarding life, stress and when his grandfather was suffering with Alzheimer’s.

Just the other day, we were notified of a friend’s death. It was the same day that we heard that a dear neighbor is struggling with an aggressive form of cancer. And it was just a day after hearing of the very public struggles of a well-respected family in our area. There was other bad news that day, but those three illustrations surely make my point.

“I wish I could just go play in my sandbox,” I said to myself. And so I did. Closing my eyes for just a few minutes, I was in the backyard of my childhood home, playing in the sandbox. My dad was working in the yard, the sun was shining, and the warm sand felt wonderful on my bare feet.

And, for a just moment, all was right in the world.

© 2012 – Lynne Cobb

Note: this post was featured on Midlife Boulevard on Jan. 24, 2014.


17 Replies to “Playing in the sandbox”

  1. There have been many days lately that I wish I could play in the sandbox too! What a great illustration, just to close your eyes for a few minutes and travel back to simpler times when all was well with the world. You’re a great writer Lynne! I’ve enjoyed reading your blogs!

  2. This is so beautiful. It brought tears to my eyes. You have a way with words that makes me feel as if I’m there. I imagined myself playing in the sandbox at my grandma’s house, I could feel the sand as I read this post. I just had to let you know that you are an amazing writer! And I am also very sorry to hear about all of the bad news you’ve been faced with. I too have been really struggling with my emotions as I watch a very good friend and neighbor battle brain cancer.. I cry every day of my life and I have no idea how to cope with things like this. However, I will try to remember the sandbox every time I feel overwhelmed with stress or anxiety. Thank you for this post 🙂

    1. Hi Kristen,
      Thank you so very much. Your comment means so much to me.
      I am so glad that you found comfort in “visiting” your sandbox. It is hard to watch others suffer. I do a lot of praying, and you might find that praying helps you cope. You may also look for a support group at your place or worship or even at a local hospital. There are online support forums, too. Or stop by again and leave a comment.
      Thanks again for posting your comment. I will keep you and your friend and neighbor in prayer.

  3. Another wonderful article Lynne! You really hit on the points. There are times when I definitely would rather be riding by bike with my friends back in time than dong things now. What great memories your kids have and can pass down. We lost a dear friend 1 1/2 years ago and it is still hard to believe. Four months and he was gone. I think I might go play in your sandbox tonight. I look forward to your next article. Keep them coming.

    1. Nancy, I am so sorry for your loss. We are truly blessed to have childhood memories to take a mental break during times of stress! Thanks so much for commenting 🙂

  4. Lynne,
    Another great post … I am thinking you should write this one up for a “Chicken Soup for the Soul” edition. That aside, I am so sorry you’ve been having a rough week with so many big challenges and feelings of loss and sadness. It all seems to come at once, doesn’t it? Keeping you in thought and prayer.

    1. Yes, Cindy, it sure does seem that way sometimes! Thanks for the suggestion…I will look into that! Prayers for you and yours, too.

  5. We had a HUGE sandbox in our backyard growing up – and we also spent hours out there. I remember as a teen, finding a beloved car that had been buried when we were much younger – and just never found until the right moment. I love that you have turned that into a saying

    I love how families build their own little “language” of phrases and sayings that must be explained to outsiders. In our family – it’s “Say yes, Eddie Walker’. This phrase has been handed down for generations – and was first coined by my grandmother – who was imitating an Aunt who harangued her poor husband something awful. It has become the go to saying when we want someone to agree with us, and the pause to think has been too long! For instance; “Wasn’t this _____ delicious” “Say yes, Eddie Walker.” Even my husband uses the phrase now!

    Another example (which my daughter did not realize was our family “language” until she used it with her roommates at college), is “Shrapnel” – defined as all the little broken pieces that are left at the bottom of a bag of chips when you’ve eaten all the whole ones.

    If I sit here and think – I bet I could come up with a dozen more!

    Thanks for always provoking me to think, Lynne! Miss you at KSPA!!

    1. I miss all of you at KSPA, too!!! Oh, we have soooo many family “language” sayings. Many came from my dad, and a whole lot more were created by my husband – LOL! I may steal your “chip shrapnel” saying – that is perfect! 🙂

  6. this is su ch a lovely post. Thank you for sharing at the Thursday Favorite Things blog hop. Watch for your feature tomorrow xo

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