Thursday, June 11, 2009

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Think this is just a pile of rocks?

Think again...Ever since he was stable enough to bend down and pick something up without keeling over, Kyle has been a rock collector. On every trip we took to anyplace that had rocks, he had to take at least one home. Every camping trip, road trip, fishing trip, walk in the woods, or just a stop on the side of the road to pee produced at least one new find.

What makes boys attracted to rocks? I think rocks make boys feel tough, strong; they are the tools/weapons of manly men, all the way back to caveman times. What man doesn't feel manly when swinging a sledgehammer? Rocks make guys feel macho.

The rocks came home and made their way onto dresser tops, inside drawers and shoe boxes, and on window sills. However, after that, they rarely got any attention. Eventually, I gathered a 5-gallon bucketful, and there they sat, untouched, in his closet, for many years. When I remodeled Kyle's bedroom a few years ago, I just couldn't part with that HEAVY bucket of rocks. How could I just discard them? They represented so many fun family times, male-bonding moments, and the carefree days of childhood. I just couldn't let it go; the bucket went into the garage and has sat, for the past two years now.

A couple of weeks ago, I came home to find that Mr.4444 had dumped the rocks out next to the flowerbed. He said he figured we could just mix them in with the "river rock" we already had there. Mix them in? Mix them in?! What was he thinking?! These were our baby boy's rocks! His treasures--confirmation of his rock-hunting prowess and everything that is macho about him. Mix them in with the rocks we paid for? Preposterous!

They've been sitting there ever since, these gems....

The perfect skipping stone? Maybe. (We never found out, obviously, because it came home with us.) Not a rock? Of course it's not a rock, but what boy with his right mind could pass up a piece of wood that looks like an arrow point? Sheesh!
And yes, a bouncy ball made it's way into the bucket (what boy's rock collection would be complete without one?)

The classic quartz piece. Never mind that it's ten inches long and weighs a ton; you can't put a weight limit on treasures, can you?Who in their right mind would see a rock like this one and walk right by?For several years, everywhere we went, Kyle would search high and low for rocks containing fossils. Many times, I would say, "Yes, Honey, I see it" when he'd thrust a treasure under my nose and ask me to see the "fossil." I'll never forget the time he was about four or five and held a tiny rock no bigger than a quarter and insisted that the tiny indentations on it were the silhouette of a triceratops. Gently, I tried to reason with him, but he would have none of it (nor would he a moment ago, when I brought it up again.) Eventually, I let go. Let the boy have his fantasy, I figured. And even if I couldn't see it, Grandpa 4444 could (he saw it right away!)

Of course, the rock collecting was intermittently reinforced with major finds, like the arrowheads he found in the creek up at Camp Nuttin' (hunting camp).Or this beauty, shaped by the millions of crashing waves of Lake Superior at McLain Park, in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.Big-time fossil payoff on this one, if you take the time to look. I must confess that I did not even know what kind of fossil it was until I uploaded this pic!

This rock just screams, "I'm special. Take me home!"
Another rock collection stowaway; a steel ball. Kyle just told me he found it in Great Grandma Florence's cellar after she passed away. Wait a minute--could that be lead? (Oh, man; maybe that one wasn't such a good find.)

When I hiked to the top of Mt. St. Helens, you can bet I grabbed a rock for Kyle. I'm guessing it was this one...And that begs the question--If we don't even know which rock came from that trip, how important can it be to keep it?

He's not a little boy anymore; he'll be a senior in the fall; we can't keep these rocks forever.

So, what to do with them? Build a shrine? (We don't love him that much!) Give them away? See, these are not just rocks; they represent memories, and to expect that anyone would treasure them as we I have would be pointless.

I've asked Kyle what he wants us to do with the rocks, and he says he doesn't care. He doesn't care? How could he not really care?? This is history here we are talking about; bonfires, big bass fish, running on the dunes, walks in the woods. Can I really dismiss his seeming willingness to cast his childhood to the wayside?

He's almost a man. Is it possible that he is no longer insecure in his strength, his power, and that he knows that rocks don't make a man? Maybe he doesn't need these stony ties to childhood?

Maybe we can keep our memories, and toss those treasures into the woods for some other little boy to find one day?

When I started this post, I had no idea of the peace it would give me. I guess it's time.

Anyone wanna a rock?

P.S. Jen, maybe your budding geologist would like one or two of these? Otherwise, I'm chucking them in the woods.

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