I told six-year-old Kody, who comes to the rock wall almost every time I work there, that he could have the rocks. There are two weight bags full of grey stones that I clip to the back of my harness when I belay someone much heavier than me. Kody found these and discovered their contents. At first he asked me if he could have some, and then when I said "yes" without resistance, he asked me if he could have them all.
Now, those bags weigh about 150 pounds each and are filled with palm-sized stones. I was curious to see how Kody planned on taking all of them. So I told him sure.
He unzipped each bag all of the way, white dust as fine as smoke billowed up, covering his hair and clothes, and began to fill the front of his shirt with as many rocks as he could carry. He took them to a nearby bench and dumped them out; he returned for the next load.
He occasionally showed me some of his finds. "This one would be a good skipper." "This one would go straight to the bottom." "This looks like a tooth."
Their time mashing against the other rocks in the bag had made most of them very smooth.
It reminded me of growing up when Mom would send me and my brothers into the yard with toothbrushes and a bucket of soapy water. We'd collect rocks and wash them on the deck in the sunshine. The project was to paint them eventually, but I mostly liked to work them over with the iridescent suds across my toothbrush.
Also, when my family went on vacation to Bandon, Oregon, the beach rocks were small and smooth and colored bright reds, purples, golds, and blues. They had a semitransparent sheen to them, and we piled them on our Frisbee until it started to buckle. When the salt water dried off the stones, we found them to be more-or-less grey, opaque, and dusty-looking.
My grandpa would sometimes walk around the grounds on our family reunions. He'd show us the things he found. A rock the shape of Indiana. Another one good to rub your thumb against.
I told Kody he could keep his five favorite. First he narrowed it down to about thirty rocks, and I had to badger him to go lower. He picked a nearly-perfect round flat one that we both agreed on. A large one for good measure. (Splash!) A white one. One with concentric circles like the rings on a tree. And finally, a not-all-that-smooth, chunky, nondescript rock I couldn't see anything special about.
He asked if he could come pick five more the next day. I asked him why he didn't just get rocks from outside. He said, "Because those rocks aren't perfect."