Raised In A Box

n the book "The Pearl, " a baby by the name of Coyotito was raised by his parents Kino and Juana in a box. This was done to prevent animals like scorpions from injuring him.

I was raised in a box too, and many children in the 1950's were raised in boxes too. Why? For the simple reason that there were no cribs, no walkers, no rockers nor any of those fancy gadgets used today to keep babies entertained while mom is at work in the house. There were all kinds and sizes of boxes, mostly wooden. Large boxes in which goods were crated and shipped to Belize were preferred. These were of solid light pine wood and could measure 2 feet by 3 feet. The baby could learn to walk in these boxes just as he does in a crib. But there were the smaller boxes perhaps 20 inches by 20. These were for the toddlers.

The beauty of these boxes was that if a mother had 3 babies ranging from 1 to 3 years of age, she could have 3 boxes at home. Children would sort of be promoted to larger boxes as they grew. Another beauty of these boxes was that they could keep children apart, from fighting for example. Three or four boxes could be in the middle of the kitchen and there could be no physical contact. And another beauty of these boxes was that mom could drag them practically anywhere as she moved about the home doing her house chores - in the living room, in the kitchen, in the yard or near the "batella" where she did her hand washing. Indeed these boxes were practical and assets to any household.

As you might have guessed, these boxes were used for babies who were a few months old to maybe 3 years of age. Babies who were weeks old were kept in a milk cardboard box and that was placed on the table right next to mom while she did her daily house chores. Milk boxes were a perfect size, handy, light, yet sturdy. A blanket lined this box, and a baby would not know the difference between that and an incubator or mother's arms. It was a cozy, cute, little box.

Babies who were grown in boxes were not pampered babies. They were not spoiled in mother's arms. And if a relative wanted to hold a baby, mother would say: "Only a few minutes and put him back in his box or you will spoil him. Then afterwards he will cry when I put him in his box."

Some funny anecdotes about those boxes! Heavy children leaned too much on one side and the box would tip over. A cat jumped into a box and delivered a litter of six kittens right beside the child. Mother flung a bucket of water right into the box that was in the middle of the yard.

Now listen to this. Some boxes were elevated a few feet off the ground to serve as a jail for 6 and 7 year olds who had the craving desire to eat sand. This was a punishment but just like prisoners who escape from jail, so did some kids, who beat the system. They would fill the fingernails, the ears, the armpits and even "the butt" with sand. And after being elevated guess what? It was party time with sand in the box and in the air. Oh, I hope we have a baby box in the museum pretty soon. The baby box was a way of life 25 years ago.

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