Tee got new bedroom furniture yesterday. She and her sister are away at their grandparents’ for the week, and I can’t wait to see her reaction when she gets home to see the mini-makeover in her room. I’ve been stalking Kijiji for over a year looking for the perfect set to replace her collection of mis-matched, donated, re-purposed junk and finally this week I found something that fit the bill. It is lovely (quite huge, but lovely), has all the pieces I was looking for, came in at a good price, and was located in our end of town. Planets? Aligned.
The fact that it happened while she was out of town is just a yummy bonus.
So I spent the last two nights moving, cleaning sorting, and tossing tons and tons of little-girl detritus into various piles, the most troubling of which is, unquestionably, “Garbage”.
My kids are collectors. I thought Tee had managed to miss out on the hoarding gene that her father so generously passed down to her sister, but after this week, I’m quite positive, that, um, no.
As I literally waded through the papers and toys and key chains and lip glosses (oh my god the lip glosses!) I couldn’t help but think once more about the culture we live in. The culture of accumulation, of stuff. We have so much that we can absolutely not appreciate it all. Don’t try to tell me your kids are different; (okay, go ahead and try; that’s what a comments section is for) if you have 27 lanyards from your fathers 27 last press conferences, you CANNOT love them all, need them all, use them all equally. You cannot actually cherish the “collection” of thirty-eight bouncy balls that you have received in cheapo birthday goody bags over the past six years. You do not need – nobody NEEDS – fourteen half-used notebooks and three empty loose-leaf binders.
Don’t even get me started on the clothes.
I go a little crazy about excess. It’s not even really the excess itself that bothers me. I’m pretty good at bulldozing a swath through the chaos every now and then. When the girls were younger, I approached downsizing gingerly, judiciously, weighing each decision with gravity and care in order not to discard an unknown or undiscovered treasure, but I’ve learned that 90% of the time, they don’t even notice what’s missing (but god help me that other 10%!)
What makes me crazy is that it keeps happening. We keep buying more. We buy things that the kids ask for, and we buy things we think they need. We buy stuff that is cute, and stuff that is on sale. We have birthday parties and the guests bring presents to sit beside last year’s presents on the shelf or in the basement. We go to parties and come home with junk food and junky plastic toys and even though goody bags are universally hated, when it comes time for our party, we find ourselves in Dollarama scanning the shelves for exactly the same kind of crap but better.
True story: last year I picked out a birthday present for Tee that I knew full well she wouldn’t play with once, but I bought it anyway because the packaging was attractive and well, she had to have something, didn’t she?
I am loathe to throw things away; I believe firmly that REDUCE is the most important of the 3 Rs. My question is, how do we change? How do you not fill a Christmas stocking, or order Scholastic books when the catalogs come around? How do you avoid the sidewalk sales and the rows of brightly coloured tights that practically have your little girl’s name embroidered on the butt? How do you not let your kids spend their own allowance money on fluorescent Sharpies and Perler beads and whatever other thing they think they positively have to have at this very moment? How do you tell friends and relatives, ‘thank you for the thought but please don’t give my children any trinkets…savings bonds are nice, though’, and how do you sell a child on the idea that this year, instead of birthday presents, we are going to ask everyone to make a donation to the Make-A-Wish foundation?
If you know, share the secret, okay? I’m cleaning Dee’s room tonight and I need all the help I can get.