Alexandra the Great's Private Papers

September 7, 2007

The Seven Foot Hole to China

Filed under: Kids — Alexandra The Great @ 12:35 pm

 My boys will tell you that I never let them have any fun.  After all, mom didn’t let them light fire to the small pyre they had built out back and I forbid them from shooting arrows into the neighbors yard.  What more condemning evidence could they need to convict me?

What they won’t tell you is that there aren’t a lot of rules at my house.  We used to have more, but when I realized I could no longer remember what they were, I quit making rules and just kept to the basics, which really simplified things.  I found that the three rules of Don’t be mean, Don’t call names, and Do whatever mom tells you, when she tells you regardless of whether you want to or not work pretty well. 

An unspoken rule at our house (an unintentional rule, not included in the big three) is: If it doesn’t irritate or make more work for mom, she probably won’t mind.  And so, quietly, my boys began to dig a hole.  I didn’t mind, as it was physically laborious and surely healthier than playing video games or engaging in other passive activities indoors, and so the digging continued.  As time went by, I passed from being approving of their activity to being forgetful of what they doing with those quiet hours spent outside, and so the work progressed.

Occasionally when I went to the back yard my attention would be drawn to the growing hole.  I would briefly look at its width and depth and be impressed with the amount of hard work the boys had invested.  A little more work, I thought, and they would surely tire of the project and fill in the crater.

I underestimated, however, both their resolve and the value they attached to this work.  Diligently they dug.  Eventually, the hole got so deep they had to construct steps to enable themselves to climb out.  This improvement came about when one boy left the other stranded in the hole by pulling out the ladder.  Being an infraction of rule one, a rigorous tongue-lashing followed this act.  Building steps into the side of the hole prevented further acts of malice, but I grew concerned for my boys’ safety when they began tunneling.  The beloved project had now become a problem, and certain of a cave-in, I demanded they fill in the hole.  The protests began.  Not only was their pit a great accomplishment, but so many hours had been invested they that could not bear to think of filling it in.  Gone would be their work, gone would be their fort, gone would be our yard’s most impressive feature!  All this would be gone if mother made them return the dirt to its original home. 

True, all this would be lost, but I had a growing concern more was being lost than that.  Rain comes, wind blows, and dirt vanishes.  If this hole was not filled in soon I knew it would be permanent fixture in our yard.  So, under compulsion, the boys reluctantly began to shovel dirt back into the hole.  Gradually the cavity grew shallower.  Gradually, the walk way was unearthed to reveal red cement.  Gradually, as they toiled, they grew more convinced that mom never lets them have any fun. 

The hole is now gone, and so is the mountain of dirt beside it.  I can’t say I mind my boys thinking me mean or cruel in my demands; they won’t always think me so.  One day when they have boys of their own they will gain the parents perspective,  and on that day I will be vindicated.



  1. I thoroughly enjoy your writing but this story was one of my favorites, so far. Having been a boy once – I know that comes as a great surprise – I remember clearly the joy of digging and building forts. I don’t really know why, but digging and building forts is a universal passion for boys. Reading your story reminds me of a short story that I wrote many years ago and if I can find it, I will post it, or “present it” as we say at the Zzyzx blog. I think the young Alexanders might even enjoy reading it.

    Comment by Mr Zzzyzx — September 7, 2007 @ 3:29 pm | Reply

  2. I look forward to reading your story. If you can’t find it, feel free to write another one for my amusement. I like being amused, which I indicated in my very first post, and even better than amusing myself is being amused by others. Thank you for your service to my cause. I shall be checking Mr. Zzyzx regularly for updates.

    Comment by alexandrathegreat — September 7, 2007 @ 3:53 pm | Reply

  3. Consider yourself amused. I didn’t have it on my computer and had to re-write it. I hope you enjoy it.

    Comment by Mr Zzyzx — September 8, 2007 @ 1:32 pm | Reply

  4. I am amused and I did enjoy it. Thanks. Further comments to be found at Mr. Zzyzx.

    Comment by alexandrathegreat — September 8, 2007 @ 1:50 pm | Reply

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