Secret Lion - Symbolism

Symbolism in "The Secret Lion"

"The Secret Lion" written by Alberto Rios is a very strange short story that has a lot of different symbols. Every symbol emphasizes the change of the lives of the twelve-year-old person who tells the story and his friend Sergio. As the story goes along, the boys are becoming adults. This story is associated with growing up.
The main symbol of the story is river, an arroyo. It illustrates their childhood, the place that never changes. It is the place where they can do whatever they want to do. It is a place to hang around. "It was our river, though, our personal Mississippi, our friend from long back, and it was full of stories"(43). But as they become more grown up they realize that their thoughts of the river change. As time goes by, the arroyo dissatisfies the boys, and they decide to stop going there. "Nature seemed to keep pushing us around one way or another, teaching us the same thing every place we ended up"(45).
At the beginning of the story, another symbol, the grinding ball, represents balance. But after the boys found it, they understand that they cannot have the ball forever, at the same time as they realize that they cannot be children forever. But they want the ball to stay the way it was. That's why, they decide to bury the grinning ball. It appears they wanted to stop time, to keep the ball and to be children forever.
It was so perfect so they did not want to lose it. "We went back to the arroyo for the rest of that summer, and tried to have fun the best we could. We learned to be ready for finding the grinding ball. We loved it, and when we buried it we knew what would happen. We were two boys and twelve summers then, and not stupid. Things get taken away"(47). They knew they were not going stay children forever. Boys knew that thing like childhood goes away; they are growing up.
The secret lion is a very puzzling and complicated symbol. It is a good example for the purity of heart. This lion symbolizes a hidden place inside us that holds our innocence, our virtue. It symbolizes moving from childhood to adulthood. It symbolizes growing up. This secret lion is associated with a change. And secret lion is the thing that changes the boys.
Another symbol is golf course. It is like "heaven" (46) for the boys when they first notice it. This is how narrator describes it: " Perfect. Heaven was green, like nothing else in Arizona?This was perfect, had trees, lots of trees, had birds, like we had never seen before. It was like the Wizard of Oz"(46). And soon they see those two men with bags, they realize that there is no such thing as a "Coke-holder," they stop acting "reach"(46). They learn that their heaven is a just a usual golf course. "Something got taken away from us that moment. Heaven. We grew up a little bit, and couldn't go backward. We learned. No one had ever told us about golf. They had told us about heaven. And it went away. We got golf in exchange?. Things get taken away"(47).
By the time boys wanted to find the ball they realized that it's not possible as it's not possible to find a way into childhood again. But honestly we can see that they are not really trying to find it because they understand that they are on their way to adulthood.
They realize that their heaven was just a golf course; the river, arroyo is not a Mississippi and they cannot stay children forever, and the knowledge of that states that you are growing up.