Welcome to the first of many re-occurring posts that take common phrases said by Mum as a jumping off points for a self-indulgent, nostalgic look at my childhood. Today’s phrase popped into my head as I’ve spent the past thirty minutes looking for a pair of shoes. Back during the prime of Mum’s chore charts and systems, this phrase was heard on a daily basis whenever we asked where something was: “Check the keep box.”
I’m sure most of you are wondering, what is the keep box? Is that a place where your mom keeps all your toys so that you don’t have to worry about losing them? NOPE. The keep box was her diabolical invention that was literally a cardboard box placed in the corner of the family room, at the bottom of the steps, or sometimes even in the garage. This is where anything that you had left laying around the house ended up in a sort of purgatory that came to include toys, books, socks, and anything at all that you had failed to bring up to your room. I know what you’re thinking, what’s so diabolical about cleaning up after you?
You see, this wouldn’t be a Mum invention if there wasn’t some type of consequence. In this case, that meant paying a certain amount of money for any item that you wanted to take out of the keep box. I’m pretty sure each item cost 10 cents, but considering we only got $1.50 every day for an allowance, that quickly added up. And, in the most Mum move of all time, she decided that each sock had to be paid for individually, which meant 20 cents if you wanted the pair back!! Having matching socks just isn’t worth such a steep price.
As expected, Tony always had many more items in the keep box each day and was much more desperate to get them back. This resulted in daily bargaining when he tried to convince me that paying for him to get his PS2 controller back would actually benefit the both of us, and it usually worked. Thank god he is a lawyer now and can use his argument skills to get money off of some other hucks these days.
Despite the strain on my small pockets back in the day, I wish that the keep box still existed and that I always knew where something was going to be when I lost it, like that one house in Halloweentown. Disney probably stole that idea from Mum, to be honest. I wouldn’t be surprised, it was pretty genius.