The Little Box of Horrors

I have a few bins of crap - I mean precious treasures - that my mom has saved since I was born. A few years ago, my mom gave me the bins. She said that she thought that maybe I'd enjoy going through them with my kids and seeing the "time capsule" of my life. I was like, "Yeah, maybe" and then I shoved them in the back room of my basement and piled a ton of crap in front of them.

This weekend Adolpha and I were cleaning out the back room when she spotted the bins. "Are you ever going to open those and see what's in there?" she asked.


Adolpha is our family historian. She is the one who cares about making memories and preserving them. She is the one who wants to make things special and glittery. She was positive that those bins held treasures from my childhood that would be ah-may-zing.

Normally, I growl and tell her no, but I was feeling generous and bit sentimental myself. After all, Gomer's eleven now and he could care less about spending any time with me. Adolpha's nine, so I know my time with her is just about up, so I said, "Fine. Let's see what's in there."

I grabbed the closest bin and pulled it out into the well-lit room so we could really admire all of my treasures. I opened the lid and was immediately greeted by this:

We eat souls.
The most horrifying baby dolls I've ever seen. I know they didn't look like that when I played with them as a child. I know they didn't look like that when they went into the bin. I have no idea what happened to them, but needless to say, none of us wanted to go to bed that night knowing that they were in our house. Also, no one wants to be the one who actually throws them out. I've seen "Chucky." I know what a pissed-off doll with a butcher knife can do! I don't want to be the one who dropped them in the trash can. We'll need to draw straws and see who will risk their life disposing of these creatures.

I poked around the bin and found my ratty mouse ears from Disneyland and some of the saddest stuffed animals I've ever seen. I can't even believe this stuff made the cut into the "save" bin. What was thrown out??

I grabbed another bin. This one was full of schoolwork from kindergarten and first grades. Tons of worksheets and coloring pages. I rocked at coloring. I don't know why they didn't give that a grade, but they totally should have. Look at that masterpiece:


I dug a bit deeper and found a ton of writing pages all with little red marks all over them: "Nice story, but so messy, Jenni!" Suddenly, I was shaking with PTSD. Those little red marks and those stupid comments made horrible memories flood inside my brain. In first grade I had a teacher who thought I had the messiest handwriting in the class.

You should see the penmanship I see on the work at my kids' school! Sheesh. She would make me stay in during recess and re-write my papers. I have beautiful handwriting now (when I want to) and when ever someone compliments me on it, all I can think of is that horrible teacher. The penmanship thing wasn't even the worst part about her. I'm going to tell you this story and you're going to all think I'm lying, but I swear on a stack of Bibles, this is the truth. Her name was Miss Oppenheimer. We spent all of first semester learning how to spell her name. "I before E, except when you're spelling the teacher's name!!!" "Two p's or else it's Open-heimer." AAACCCCKKKKKK!!! Every kid struggled and she was a hard-ass about it. Then we went home for Christmas break and we came back and she'd gotten married. (I'm sure well knew it was coming, because it wasn't a huge surprise, but still.) She came back and her name now was Mrs. Schwartzendruber. At least I think that's how you spell it, because at that point even the parents cried uncle and said, "Nope, my kid isn't learning how to spell that one, lady."

I quickly read a few of my papers to see if there was anything good to reprint on here, but unless you're interested in stories about Bill and Jill washing laundry and cleaning the kitchen, I got nothing.

I did find this lovely booklet:


Did you notice the interesting sentence there? "It isn't about a famous actor, a pet, an airplane, or a brat." WTF, teacher?? I'm pretty sure my teacher just called us all brats, without calling us brats. "Nooo, this one isn't about a brat. We wrote about brats last year. This year, everyone's great!"

I opened up the book that's NOT about a brat and this was the first page:


"Things That Bug Me." People ask me all the time if I was an angry child and I just assumed I was. However, this page tells me otherwise. I could only come up with ONE thing that bugged me? I can't even believe that! One thing? And it was my brother? How cliche of me. Man, five-year-olds have the best lives.

This page also gave me pause. It's the usual "feelings" page kids fill out when they're young. "I am happy when ... I get a bike," "I'm afraid of ... loose teeth," etc.



But one of the prompts stopped me:

I am ashamed of ...

I am ashamed of??? I'm five and already you're teaching me shame???

I tell you what I'm ashamed of, I'm ashamed that I could only come up with one thing that bugs me!

I decided we'd had enough time down memory lane. We piled the papers back in the bin and I told Adolpha the other bins could wait for another day. These were just kindergarten and first grade, can you imagine how bad the bins from middle school will be???

"Let's go, all done," I said, throwing papers around and then something shifted.

"What's that?" Adolpha asked.

I peered into the bin and could make out a small, yellow, plastic container of some kind. Bells sounded in my head and a foggy memory surfaced. "Oh my God. Is that what I think it is?" I asked.

"What? What is it??"

I reached into the bin and retrieved the container. "Oh my God. It is."

"What is it, Mommy???" Adolpha asked, excitedly. She was sure we'd found something really special.

The Hubs was in the other room, but he could hear us. "Jen! What did you find? What is it?" I know the Hubs was hoping it was cash or a certificate for Apple stock from the 80s.

I opened the lid of the small container and there inside rested something that my mother has saved for 30 years. Something that was so precious to her that she couldn't bear to throw it out. Something that she was positive I would want to keep as an heirloom for my children some day, so she gently, carefully packed it away in these bins of precious memories.

Inside the small, yellow container with my name NEATLY printed on the exterior was ... my ... retainer.


I didn't dig any deeper, but I'm betting there's a bag of teeth in there too.

If you liked this story, then you'll love my new book: Spending the Holidays with People I Want to Punch in the Throat!

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