One of my very favorite things growing up was a cardboard house I got in the mail by collecting box tops from my Flintstone's chewable vitamins. Much like the photo above, mine had a similar window on either side and a door for privacy. It came in the mail right before Halloween and I couldn't get inside of it fast enough. Later that week, I attended my very first haunted house. The image of a decapitated woman sitting in a chair with blood dripping down her dress, forming thick red pools around her ankles is one that haunts me to this day. I'm fairly certain I'd seen her before and I'm positive I never saw her again, which backs up my theory that there never really was a haunted house at all. When we got home that night, I went into my house. My heart was racing as I tried to shake the image of the headless woman out of my head. I could feel someone watching me and I ran to the other side to look around... nothing. I stood quietly playing, but every creak sounded like an axe being dragged, so I decided to go upstairs and find my parents instead. When I opened the door, I was greeted by my brother, "Mmuuuhhhhuuaaahhh!!
I'm not sure how long I had my little house, but I remember the day I lost it like it was yesterday. It wasn't a resale, nor was it under foreclosure: those would have been far less painful. I was the youngest of three children; the other two being boys, and my brother Wayne had a passion for "all things destruction." I walked into my room, accessed the damage and began to do what most little girls do when bad things happen. My brother just stood there laughing, "Cry-baby, cry-baby, wha! wha! wha!" "I'm gonna tell Mom!" I wailed. "Tell her and I'll do the same thing to YOU!" I never told my mom what happened that day and I'm pretty sure I got punished for throwing a "temper tantrum," which was what my brother told her happened. Though I'd often be found curled up in a closet or hiding behind a chair, I never saw another cardboard house again and, deep down, I never forgave my brother.
A few weeks before Christmas, I was strolling through Target and spotted a Roseart cardboard playhouse. Unlike my playhouse, this one was plain white with black lines outlining images that you can color in yourself. "Brilliant!" I thought, "Not only can she sit inside an empty box for hours on end, she can spend the rest of the time painting it!" Adrenaline pumped through my veins as I tossed it in the cart. "Wait until she sees this!" At some point on Christmas day, the snow began to fall in Atlanta. White, puffy drops danced all around the streets... It was beautiful. We put her new home together and sat down with a box of markers to help her decorate. She climbed through the door and poked her head out of the side window. "Do you love it?" I asked. "Yes, I do!"
Sometimes I feel bad that we stopped after one kid. I know she'll never have a brother or a sister to go to when she gets picked on at school, and it breaks my heart to see other kids playing together while she swings alone. I also know one day we won't be here to hold her heart and guide her through this roller-coaster called life. I think about it often (probably more than I should) and I question whether or not we made the right decision. The only real comfort I've ever been able to find, is knowing that I don't ever have to worry about an older brother or sister doing to her what was done to me. As long as I'm around, no one will EVER tear down her castle, I just hope I'm around long enough to make sure she doesn't move into the wrong one!