Thursday 29 Sep 2016

My First Sandbox
AJ Robinson

When you’re a little kid, you often don’t know what you’re missing when you “get by” with something not quite right. For me, it was my first sandbox. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was not a sandbox.


We had a brick patio area.

Out in our backyard, we had a brick patio area. My Dad had been working on it for some time, but the center area was incomplete. It was open, and the area was full of sand. I now understand that the sand was the intended base material for the deck, and my dad was gradually filling in the area with the bricks, tapping them in close to each other to create the patio.

Not known for getting task done, my Dad worked for completion in a timely fashion. In fact, he was famous in our family for putting things off, a lot! The center of the patio didn’t get finished.

Thus, I got one excellent sandbox. It was very neat. I could bring all my trucks, buckets, shovels, and anything else I could think of out there and play.

To say it was a big sandbox would be an understatement. Two of my friends and I could build a castle or fortress each; lay out our gear and play for hours. My friends were quite envious; none of them had a sandbox anything like mine.

Then, finally, my Mom got on his case about the patio and he finished it. That first day, going outside to play, I was dumbstruck. As I was only about five or six, I had no understanding as to why or who filled in my beautiful sandbox.

When I ask, my Mom said not to ask, which was further confusing. As it was the 1960s, parents usually used the old: “Because I said so” routine. These days, I imagine I would get a lengthy speech about it, told that it was okay to be upset and that I should embrace my anger and sadness a I don’t know; make it my own?


I don’t follow the “flavour of the month,” when it comes to politically correct child rearing.

My questions about a new sandbox did get answers. In that area, my dad actually put forth some effort to build it in a timely fashion. I think, maybe, my mom told him he needed to get it done before I went off to high school.

Anyway, he got some lumber, built a nice square box, put little triangle-shaped seats in the four corners and then we set off to get some sand. Back then, we didn’t have Home Depot or any other such home improvement store. No, we only had basic hardware stores. When it came to sand, that was easy, and no, we didn’t go to the beach.

Although, in hindsight, I think that would have been easier. Anyway, we went to a local cement manufacturer. Outside, piled all over the place, were sand, gravel, crushed stones and so on. I was surprised when we didn’t check with anyone. We just backed up the old army trailer to a pile of fine sand and, by “fine,” I don’t mean it was nice sand; it was small-grained and then shoveled some into the back.


After that, it was home and we filled the new box.

I was in it and playing, with my trucks, inside of two minutes. There was something about new sand, which made that first day a true joy. After that, I invited my friends over, and they came, one or two at a time, and we resumed our games. Yeah, I got a lot of mileage out of that new sandbox, but I still think of that first one, that one that wasn’t supposed to be. I’m glad my mom got her patio, but I would have liked another year or two of playing in my jumbo sandbox.

Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.

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