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This past weekend we tackled our semi-annual massive cleaning of the kids’ rooms. (And let me just pause to take this opportunity to invite the UN Weapons Inspectors to stop by my house at their convenience, because I may have found the weapons of mass destruction.)

It’s not pretty.

Once the closets were reorganized, the top of the dresser cleared, the Legos regrouped after being flung to the farthest reaches of our house, it was time to tackle the under-bed area, otherwise known as the End Of the Universe.

Hubs and I glanced at each other, and I gave him my best Jack Bauer hand signals: “I’m going in. You got me covered?”

Surprisingly, the under-bed realm was in better shape than I expected, containing mostly old school papers, tons of mismatched socks, and a bunch of baseball cards.

The whole thing was going smoothly, and we were down to our last chore -- sorting through the boys’ treasure boxes. We started this little system years ago, as a way for our sons to be responsible for those keepsakes that are the most valuable to them. I hang on to significant school papers, report cards, etc., but the boys are responsible for the items they consider keepsakes. The boxes are roughly twice the size of a normal shoe box, and when they’re full, it’s time to purge and re-evaluate what’s really worth keeping. It’s been a useful system to cut down (at least theoretically) on the clutter, and it communicates to the boys that we value what’s important to them.

All of this is helpful, of course, but the best part of the system is catching a glimpse of their treasures. When you see what a boy holds dear, you see him.

My seven-year-old son and I sat down together to open up his box. He couldn’t wait to show me what was inside. He gave me permission to tell you about it, too. Inside were the following:

--8 rocks
--1 key to a long-forgotten lock
--an assortment of 1st and 2nd place ribbons from various art projects and foot races
--an almost-empty roll of Scotch tape
--6 assorted screws
--a Ziploc baggie of sand
--the second page of a handwritten essay on sharks
--a Presidential dollar
--an old map
--a broken wristwatch
--a handful of Chuck E. Cheese tickets
--a used Kleenex

His treasures.

He looked up at me proudly, and I could not wipe the goofy grin off my face. That box held a snapshot of my boy’s heart -- a seven-year-old heart for whom a bag of sand is priceless and an old map is worth keeping because what if leads to real treasure?

I ruffled my boy’s hair, still sweaty from all the hard cleaning. He grinned and told me the story of the baggie of sand.

I listened, knowing the real treasure is all mine.

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