Practicing calm inside a cardboard box


"Close the top of the box," seven-year-old Dylan said after he climbed in. 

We were in the backyard. I watched as he climbed a Banyan Tree, swang down from a rope and ran as fast as he could to the fence and back to do it again. Three times. Out of breath, he saw a large box, climbed in and that's when he asked me to close the flaps.

"I'm going to calm down my breath. Time me."

Wordlessly I watched. I looked at my watch and stood nearby. A while later, I heard him whisper, "Are you still there, Grammie?"

"I am." From within the closed box, he asked, "How long have I been in here?"

"How long do you think you've been in there?"

"An hour?" 

I reply, "Not that long."

"A half-hour?" he questions.

"You've been sitting in there for five minutes, ten seconds."

"My body is squished, but I'm going to stay for more time."

He did. 

At thirteen minutes thirty-three seconds, he stood up. His head popped out. I smiled at his smile.

I asked if he had heard of Martin Luther King, Jr. 

He nodded yes and said MLK told us to remember "all people are equal." I told Dylan that there will be times when we might be upset as we help all people be equal.

"You did one of the important lessons King taught: be calm when you're uncomfortable. But it takes practice."

Dylan listened and said, "I practiced in the box for a long time."