[I wrote most of this post last year, when I was living in a house with friends who had small children.]

The other day, one of the toddlers asked me to come outside and play.  “I need my batime,” he said to me, pointing to a long, shallow box filled with styrofoam cushions.  His elocution needs work.

“What is this–your Batcar?” I asked, referring to a recent obsession.

“NO!  It’s my BATIME!”

It took him crawling into the box and curling on his side for me to figure out that what he needed was his bedtime.  When I looked, I could see that the box was remarkably like a bed–the styrofoam cushions were topped with a pillow-sized block, and there was a piece of foam wrapping that served as the perfect blanket.  The day was cold, so I covered him up with it well.

And then he wanted me to shut the lid.

I balked.  I really did not want to scare him, and the whole getup looked way too much like a child-sized coffin for me to feel relaxed.  On the other hand, I was right there, the box was cardboard, and he seemed happy.  And very insistent.  So I closed the lid, lightly.

From inside came a high, hysterical sound–the sound of delighted giggles.

I opened up the box to see a smiling boy who wanted me to help fix his blanket and to shut his bed again.  So I did, again and again as giggles gripped him.  I got the idea to pick the box up and pretend I was carrying a package around, which induced more giggles, until the carrying went on a bit longer than he liked, and I heard “Want down!” from my parcel.  That scared us both off from that game for the rest of the afternoon.

Still, my young friend’s interest in enclosed spaces got me wondering, again, what it is in some of us that finds enclosure so comforting, and yet so very thrilling?

Sculpture by the German artist and sculptor Bithja Moor.