by Ajike Akande
I am currently struggling with the overwhelming urge to throw out most of my children’s belongings. It could be that spring is in the air (or it least it should be based on the calendar). It could be that we have been cooped up inside, existing among their stuff for months now. It could be that most of the children’s beloved stuff is actually crap! Their crap falls into three categories. 1) Toys and games that encourage their development (My kids don’t see this stuff as beloved but just stuff they are entitled to. I’m going to have to address this issue with them). 2) Crap they’ve made and brought home. Just because you made it during art class, doesn’t make it art. 3) Crap given to them by other children in the form of Valentine’s Day Cards (I hate you St. Valentine) and Loot Bags.
Regarding crap category number one, it is true that my kids have way too many games and toys but I’m pretty good at removing the things they don’t use and putting the rest in carefully labeled bins. (I love you label maker!)
I’m not even going to bother expanding on my issues with crap category number two - my children’s overly glittery “art”, because some of you lovely, kind and hopefully loyal readers are probably artists or art appreciators and I don’t want to deal with your comments about art interpretation and voice and principles of design. Let’s just say that where much of my children’s art is stored is between me and the recycling bin. It’s not about the product anyway; it’s about the process.
Crap category number three, however, is something I’m going to need to discuss. Please note the following paragraphs may contain harsh opinions.
The other day I almost tossed Miss O’s Valentine Cards. In my defense, Valentine’s Day happened 26 days ago. I didn’t do it though. My little one, with her adorable and sometimes annoying fixations, loves her Valentine’s cards. They have all the right characteristics for our quirky kid. A) They are cards. Cards are the best. Do not leave any type of card lying around in our house; Miss O will find it and stash it. B) They are small. Holy crap small is so, so, good! C) They were brought home in a bag. Small cards that can be taken out of a bag, sorted by any number of attributes and returned to the bag? That’s awesome stuff in O’s world. With great concern when she heard of my desire to toss the Valentine’s Day cards, Wife said, “They’re her Facebook! You can’t throw out the cards!” (I thought this analogy was a little exaggerated – nothing is as good as Facebook, but I see her point.) The Valentine’s Day cards stay. And because Miss O’s cards stay, everyone’s cards stay. So on my would-be-pretty display table in the dining room, I have three paper bags full of Valentine’s Day cards. Damn you beloved stuff!
If Valentine’s Day cards aren’t bad enough, don’t get me started on loot bags! For the love of David Suzuki and all things “eco”, we’ve got to stop with the loot bags! From now on the following note will be pinned to my children when they attend a birthday party:
Dear Adult host of birthday party,
How about I buy your kid a present and say it’s from my kid, and you show your appreciation for the present by NOT giving my kid a bag of junk that I have to sneak out of the house item by item, because they think it’s an actual a bag of prized possessions!
A Mom Who HATES Loot Bags
And to children who attend a birthday party for one of my children, the following note will be given:
Dear child guest at my kid’s birthday party,
Thank you for coming. At the city landfill there is a bag of crap with a cute tag with your name on it. In it is a bunch of stuff that I got at the dollar store to give you and the other kids “from” my kid to show our appreciation for your attendance at their birthday party. I know your parents are busy; I also know your propensity to become unreasonably attached to crap you get or find so I’ve decided to save your parents the time and you, the pain and just took the bag of dollar store crap directly to the landfill where it will ultimately end up anyway.
A Mom who HATES Loot Bags
P.S Eat all the sugary junk food that you want; you’re going home to someone else soon!
Look, I’m not a minimalist. I like stuff as much as the next person, but kids really need to be reigned in. They need to be taught to identify stuff worth actually keeping and perhaps more importantly, how to organize and maybe even hide their stuff so that I don’t have to look at it all the time!
Rant over. Carry on.