“Henry was a precocious child. Always had been. Learned to walk very early and from day one, showed an acute curiosity about everything within reach. As such, now at the ripe old age of five, he was what his mother called a handful. “That child just tires me out. I can’t turn my back for a moment. He is into everything. And the questions never stop. She often said “Henry, if you don’t stop this minute, I am going to trade you in for a dog”. Henry was sure she wouldn’t do that, but it was usually enough to make him stop.
Today however was going to be different. This morning, his mother had dropped him off at his grandmothers house. Henry wasn’t too crazy about the idea because his grandmother was a lot stricter then his mother was. On previous visits he had spent a lot of time relegated to a chair where she had ordered him to sit after he had done something of which she didn’t approve. And it didn’t do any good to whine. She would just stare at him with a steely eye until he stopped. As a result he didn’t like her and secretly compared her to the witch in his book Little Red Riding Hood.
He wasn’t there too long before tiring of playing with his toys in the living room and decided to see what was going on in the kitchen. Immediately upon entering the room his gaze fixed upon a little wooden box in the middle of the kitchen table. Sliding into a chair he continued to examine it with his eyes. It wasn’t very big. Maybe four inches square and it didn’t seem to have any way to open it. That seemed strange to Henry and only served to further peak his curiosity. He had just started to reach out to pick it up when the authoritative voice of his grandmother said “don’t touch the box”. He quickly withdrew his hand and glanced at his grandmother who was staring directly at him.
“Why can’t I see the box” he asked sullenly.
“Because it is a magic box and it’s not something for children to play with” she said.
“What is magic about it” he pressed.
She replied “although you don’t know it, while you are looking at it, it is watching you”.
Now Henry was really interested. Although he didn’t really believe his grandmother, he could not take his eyes off the box. Warily he ventured “it can’t see me grandma. It’s just an old box”.
“I wouldn’t be too sure. Things aren’t always as they seem”.
Henry just stared at the box for several minutes, his mind racing with all manner of questions about the box. Finally he asked “what would happen if I touched the box”?
His grandmother turned to face him and quietly said” I don’t know Henry. My mother would never let me touch it either. She just said bad things could happen if I did. In fact, she would always keep it somewhere that I couldn’t find it to make sure I didn’t. I never held it until she gave it too me after I was grown”.
Henry slid off his chair and went back into the living room and returned to his toys. However, his mind was preoccupied with the box. He still didn’t believe his grandma about the box being able to see him. He also didn’t believe a little wooden box would hold any powers that could hurt him. He reasoned that his grandma was making that all up so that he wouldn’t touch the box.
In a little while, his grandma joined him in the living room, sitting in her favorite chair and knitting. Henry continued to play with his toys, but would frequently glance at her to see if she was still knitting. On previous visits, she had nodded off from time to time and he was hoping she would do so again today. Soon, his wish came true. Her hands lay still in her lap and her eyes were closed. Henry softly said “Grandma” and upon receiving no answer, stood up and watched her for a minute. Satisfying himself that she was really asleep, he walked quietly to the kitchen. To his chagrin, the box was not still on the table. Looking inquiringly around the room, he spotted it on an upper shelf, well beyond his reach. In an effort not to wake his grandma, she silently lifted a chair and moved it across the room. Climbing up on it, he still couldn’t reach the box, so he stepped up onto the counter. There before him was the box which he had coveted. At last he would have his chance to examine it. He reached out and picked it up.
“Mom, it’s me. I’m here to pick up Henry. How did things go today”?
“HI Dear. I’m in the kitchen. Come join me and we can talk over a cup of coffee”.
Henry’s mom walked into the kitchen as her mother placed a sugar bowl on the table. “How’s Henry” she asked.
“Just fine” her mother replied. “Everything went as planned. He’s out in the back yard playing”.
Henry’s mother got up and walked over to the window. There on the lawn was a little puppy running around, investigating everything it came in contact with. “Oh”, she said. “He’s perfect. I’ll let him play a little longer before I take him home”. She turned back to the table and sat down. Looking across the table she said “Thank you Mom. It isn’t like I didn’t warn him”.