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The Problem with Sandboxes

We have a sandbox in our backyard, and I have no idea why we put it there. Nothing good comes from it. Yesterday, my 4-year-old started dumping sand on my 7-year-old’s head. Just shovelful after shovelful of coarse, ground rock showering down on her. My 7-year-old found this HILARIOUS, of course. Look at me! I’m having sand hurled into my eyes! This is like being in Iraq!

I took her inside and washed her hair to get all the sand out. The wash did next to nothing. All it did was leave a very fine layer of grit to the bottom of our tub. I brought the girl downstairs, and my wife examined her scalp.

“There’s still sand in here,” my wife said.

“I KNOW,” I said. “I tried my best to get it out, so don’t accuse me of half-assing it. I scrubbed that girl down HARD.”

“There must be a trick to it we don’t know about.”

With that, my wife hopped online and immediately found a home remedy from Pinterest. Finding home remedies on Pinterest now consumes 80 percent of my wife’s waking hours.

I haven't even gotten to the part where the kids flood the sandbox with the garden hose yet. It's like seeing a man die in front of you.
“Aha!” she said. “You apply baby powder to the hair, and THEN you wash it. Twice.”

“Twice?”

“Twice.”

“THAT’S INSANE,” I said. “It’s sand. It’s not head lice.”

“Well, we gotta wash it again.”

“(puts fist through wall)”

You can find any number of articles and studies extolling the virtues of sandboxes. They’re a staple of local playgrounds, nursery schools, and backyards all over the country. They encourage creativity, or so I’m told. In a child’s hands, a big pile of sand becomes a LAND OF MAGIC AND WONDER. Why, that’s no pile of sand. That’s the Ghost King’s Mountain! And nothing will help little Johnny prepare for a life of tunneling out of prison quite like being handed a miniature shovel and fifty kilotons of sand. Fine. Wonderful. I get why they exist.

But seriously, f#$! sandboxes.

There has be another way to stimulate a child’s imagination. Can’t we just give them a pile of old tonic water bottles and see what happens? Sandboxes are EVIL. I spend the majority of my time standing outside the sandbox and yelling at my kids to not dump sand out of the sandbox. And then they go and dump it anyway. There’s no removing it from the grass after that. The grass just DIES. The area around our sandbox looks like the site of a chemical spill. SO MUCH BROWN.

Why would anyone want sand in their backyard? It’s the worst part of going to any beach. Even Anakin Skywalker hates it. It gets everywhere. When a child steps out of a sandbox, the sand doesn’t just magically fall off of them. It gets embedded in their hair, and their socks, and their shoes, and it mixes with their toe jam to form a gritty death paste that can never be removed. Kids put it in EVERY pocket, like they’re weighing themselves down to train for a boxing match.

And they throw it. God, they throw it. They just never stop throwing it. What would YOU do with sand if you were a kid? I can tell my kids not to throw it all day long, but that’s enough to stop my son from turning into a pro wrestling manager and BLINDING his sister with a wicked handful of the stuff. Kids are like Jason Bourne — they can make a weapon out of anything: sand, discarded paper towel rolls, ribbons (excellent for garroting), etc. Why did I give them an entire PILE of sand to attack each other with? I must be the dumbest man alive.

I haven’t even gotten to the part where the kids flood the sandbox with the garden hose yet. I can’t talk about it. It’s like seeing a man die in front of you. And water is just one of the many rogue elements that can get mixed into the sandbox. Over time, it accumulates things like dirt, and rocks, and twigs, and very small animals. There’s likely a mob informant buried in ours as we speak. It’s not a sandbox anymore. It’s the Jersey Meadowlands.

We’ve had to refill this sandbox twice now. Where did the first two loads of sand go?

I bought a bag of cheap sand to refill it the first time, only to realize that a bag of cheap sand is basically a bag of chalk shavings. My kids got out of the sandbox looking like they had just wiped their faces on the inside of a fireplace. Nothing but ashy children, as far as the eye could see. I bought fancier sand, and now we’re low again.

We can’t get rid of this thing. With all the sand inside it, it weighs more than Omaha Beach. There’s a little hole in the side of the sandbox for a picnic umbrella, and the kids have filled it with sand nine thousand times. On the other side of the planet, there is a VOLCANO of sand erupting twenty-four hours a day because my kids won’t stop cramming it into the Earth’s crust. I could dig the sand out of the sandbox, but then what? Where does it go? Into a trash can? How do you move a trash can filled with 500 pounds of unmixed cement? What do I do with all this crap? WE WILL NEVER BE FREE OF THIS WRETCHED THING.

I hate sandboxes.

To get Drew’s take on 21st-century parenting, check out his memoir, Someone Could Get Hurt, available wherever books are sold. 

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