Sunday, April 21, 2013

Be a Boy #8 : The Secret Stash

  • A Secret Stash is better than cash 
 Little brothers are always getting into your things. Parents always make you share your things. The solution is to create a secret stash.

All little boys have these "treasure boxes" and most keep them until they are put in a box themself.

This "ditty box"  is more than just an accumulation of material possessions. For inside of this vault of personal belongings you will rarely uncover any item of worldly value.

The value that is found in this collection is tied not to the monetary weight of each piece but the story each item weighs on the collectors heart. We are creatures that forget and when we delight in an experience we often encounter a trinket that we can preserve to eternally lock that memory in our brain.

For ages, boys have collected these treasures and it is fun for a father (or mother) to help launch his son on this exciting journey. Women, you understand this. You, however, tend to be a more systematic creature organizing memories in books of scrap.

I recently had the pleasure to help begin Maxton's Secret Stash.

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 The Stage of Explanation

A young boy will grasp the concept of a Secret Stash much quicker than you may think. This is especially true of boys that have younger siblings. I had a lot of fun with the explaining stage; the mere thought of having a private place that nobody in the entire universe had access to was obviously an intriguing concept to Max. For a three year old (with 2 younger siblings) it ranks up there with mixing multiple Kool-aid's in one cup.

Needless to say (for once) I had Maxton's utmost attention as I began to lay out the blueprint for this promising proposition.

1. "Put your things in your box"

Do not put your brothers toys or trinkets in your box because he will ransack your box and retain any and all possessions that you have swiped. Most likely he will return the favor too. 

2.  "If you hide your secret stash remember where you hid it"

OK, this one seems obvious. I did not think this one would need to be told to Maxton because he has his mother's memory. In fact I was going to keep this entire adventure the above single rule. However, in the excitement of moving the stash from location to location to throw of the little blood-hound brother who he believed was hot on his trail, he misplaced his box.

That's it. 2 Rules. You need to keep it simple, open to discovery and free to make the experience whatever they want it to be.

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The Stage of Accumulation

As your son begins to acquire his possessions be careful not to set too many rules. Obviously, my son at age three is not going to be harboring illegal drugs; just check in every once in awhile during nap time to make sure nothing is stored away that could cause some sibling rivalry. Besides this keep it open and you will be fascinated by what your little collector puts value on as he amasses his memory treasures.

At this point of the game, young Maxton is mostly gathering some of his favorite things that he does not want to share but as time goes on I think it will inevitably become a treasure chest his future wife will roll her eyes at as he will over enthusiastically recalls countless stories to tell his buddies.

Don't tell him I told you this but Maxton's Secret Stash is currently securing:
  1. Thomas trains
  2. A rock from Lake Michigan
  3. $1 from Aunt Julie
  4. A gold medal (which he probably believes is for winning a race because he loves thinking he is being fast)
  5. A Hammer
  6. 3D Spiderman glasses
  7. Several "gold doubloon"(tokens from an arcade)
  8. Crackers (apparently holding out for when his parents don't give him a snack!)
  9. Last but not least, the most recent addition to the box of wonders is his Superman cape!






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The Stage of Retrospection

The third and final stage of this journey is what this pleasurable pastime is all about. The moment when you go back to your box, slowly lift the lid and walk down memory lane. In that moment you will return to a place in time that pure memory can not take you. Boys, and men, are creatures that are visually stimulated and seeing an object will evoke a memory much deeper than simple recollection.

This stage is even greater when you can share it with others; Whether its a couple of 7 year old's bantering of their grand hyperbolic adventures or an 86 year old great grandpa reliving his golden years in front of starry eyed young lad's captivated by the majesty of such treasures each is landing in the final stage.

The beauty of this process is that the final stage does not mean the end is in sight. The journey continues and the memories are waiting to be made and retained. 

Remember, in that moment when you kiss that cute little brown eyed girl, on the 7th hole at magic mountain and something in your brain tells you to steal the golf ball because you will want to remember this moment...do it (I did). When you win a medal for a season of sport or a medal of honor, you'll want to share that story...keep it. When you lose your first tooth or find a penny from your birth year...hold on to it. Oh the stories you will tell!

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Remember that keeping a treasure box is about retaining your story and sharing it with others. Your story is worth holding on to and passing on to the next generation. Your story will tell of your battles, victories, maybe your lady and your purpose in life; those that will follow will need to know that you faced these adventures with courage and honor and have the trinket to prove you made it to the other side.  

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 “We used to wait in the library in the evening until we could hear his key rattling in the latch of the front hall, and then rush out to greet him; and we would troop into his room while he was dressing, to stay there as long as we were permitted, eagerly examining anything which came out of his pockets which could be regarded as an attractive novelty. Every child has fixed in his memory various details which strike it as of grave importance. The trinkets he used to keep in a little box on his dressing-table we children always used to speak of as “treasures.” The word, and some of the trinkets themselves, passed on to the next generation. My own children, when small, used to troop into my room while I was dressing, and the gradually accumulating trinkets in the “ditty-box”—the gift of an enlisted man in the navy—always excited rapturous joy.”  – Theodore Roosevelt

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What's in your box? Here's some suggestions to get you started.
  1. Photo
  2. ticket stub
  3. pocket knife 
  4. compass
  5. Medals - athletic, academic, military, scouts etc.
  6. Zippo lighter
  7. shark tooth
  8. world money
  9. family recipes
  10. yo-yo
  11. bullet shells
  12. class rings
  13. 4H Ribbons
  14. Leatherman
  15. rabbit's foot
  16. Dog tags
  17. Police badge
  18. Harmonica/Kazoo
  19. small vacation souvenirs
  20. favorite pen
  21. straight razor
  22. religious medallions 
  23. sea shells
  24. arrow head
  25. duck call
  26. name tags
  27. fossils
  28. G.I. Joe
  29. baseball cards
  30. rocks
  31. tie tacks/clasp/cuff links
  32. (handcuff) keys
  33. cigar cutter 
  34. sand dollar
  35. bottle opener
  36. $2 bill
  37. Flight wings
  38. corncob pipe
  39. Dried flower from prom/wedding
  40. Rosary
  41. Varsity Letter
  42. autographs memorabilia
  43. graduation tassel
  44. Guitar pick
  45. Shifter knob
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For another great article (where I gained much of my inspiration) check out THE ART OF MANLINESS BLOG : HERE

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