Mary watched from the kitchen window as Caleb dropped another shovel full of dirt into the blue plastic bucket. He hefted the container and dumped it onto his ever growing mound on the opposite side of the sand box. For an hour the little blond boy had been working diligently on his dig. He wiped a grubby hand across his forehead, leaving a dark smudge just below his hair line. His red shirt was wet with perspiration. Even in the shade of the tall oak tree that stood watch over the sand box, Caleb was dripping with sweat. Mary’s heart went out to her industrious little worker as she pulled down his favourite cup from the cabinet and poured him some of his favourite beverage, ice cold lemonade.
The humidity hit Mary as soon as she opened the patio door and stepped out of the air conditioning. The July sun beat ruthlessly on her head and exposed arms. Seeking the protection of the shade, Mary rushed across the lawn, her son’s cup clutched in her hand. The large thermometer near the sandbox read 92 degrees in the shade.
“Caleb, come have a drink of lemonade,” Mary said as she sat down at the picnic table.
“Lemonade!” he cheered. The little boy rushed over, his hands, face and clothing covered in sand and dirt. He took the cup she offered and greedily drank the sweet liquid. Wiping and arm across his mouth, he grinned at his mom. “I love lemonade!”
“You have been working hard. That is a very large hole. What are you looking for down there?” Mary knew there had to be a purpose behind such activity. Her son often gave himself projects or pretended to work on something very important. In fact, just the week before, he had pretended to be an archaeologist digging for dinosaur bones.
“I am going to China.”
“Why would you want to go to China?” Mary asked.
“A lot of my toys are from China. Daddy showed me the word on the bottom of my fire truck, and it was also on my plastic snake. China must be filled with toys. I want to go there!”
“Why are you digging a hole, instead of flying on an airplane?”
“Well, I don’t know how to drive an airplane, but I know how to dig a hole.”
Mary couldn’t argue with his five year old logic. “How long do you think it will take to dig a hole all the way to China?”
Caleb thought. His forehead creased with concentration as he counted on his fingers and then tapped his temple. “I think I could get there in twenty, fourteen, seventy-three days.”
Mary’s eyes grew wide to match those of her son’s. “Twenty, fourteen, seventy-three days! That is a really long time. Have you packed your supplies? Did you remember to bring a change of clothes with you, and some food to eat?”
“I knew there was something I forgot.”
“Should we go inside and make some sandwiches? It is almost lunch time, I am sure that you would need something to eat so that you can have the energy to finish your dig.”
Caleb nodded sagely. “Construction workers need lots of food to eat, so that they can be strong.” He showed Mary is muscles.
“You’re right.” Mary took her son’s hand as they made their way toward the house. She stopped and looked at her son’s clothing. “You know Caleb. If you go to China looking like that, no one will want to talk to you because you are so dirty. Do you think it would be a good idea to take a bath and wash behind your ears before you go?”
Caleb looked at his hands and clothes and nodded. “I’ll even change my underwear!” he whispered.
An hour later, Mary watched the gentle rise and fall of her son’s chest as he lay on the couch in fresh clothes. A small dot of peanut butter sat at the corner of his mouth as he dreamed of a far off, toy filled land called China.
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