When I was having my daughter I could not believe the haul from my baby shower. The books and toys and receiving blankets and toys, on and on it goes. None of us accept all of these gifts or grow our child’s inventory of toys with the expressed interest in raising a child with so much stuff that they turn into spoiled assholes.
I simply couldn’t allow toys to takeover specific (or all) areas of my house. I’ve tried to unpack why I could not let this happen in my house. It may be that my brain just can’t handle the anxiety of trying to compartmentalize that much chaos. I think in my case it’s that I just realized that any toys she did have just never got played with. Don’t get me wrong, her room was complete and total chaos. Well intentioned people and family including me had given her so many gifts and treats that it was total madness in there!
It got to a point where getting her to spend any amount of time cleaning up her hovel would turn into this nagging, frustrating mess for everyone. I hated it, I definitely know she hated it. I thought about what could be done? I didn’t want to be ungrateful to the people who spent time and money getting her these things but in the same breath I had to accept that these ‘things’ were doing nothing whatsoever to contribute to her happiness, her appreciation for how lucky she is, or for her intellectual development. In fact, ironically it was doing the opposite, it was a burden. She was frustrated at constantly being nagged to clean up, she didn’t appreciate anything and she could never find all of the pieces to actually be able to play with any given toy or activity in the way it was intentioned. Simply put, she didn’t care about these things because she couldn’t care about these things. Nothing was rare, nothing was precious, nothing was special.
I made up my mind and went up to her room like a crazed maniac. Luckily she was at grandma and grandpa’s for a sleepover so she didn’t have to witness the carnage.
I cleaned fucking house.
I threw out so much shit it was unbelievable. I filled 3 garbage bags. I threw out probably 30 colouring books, partially coloured in, hundreds of markers, dozens of packets of stickers, partial craft sets, jewelry boxes, pencil cases, puzzles the list goes on and on and on. Yes sir, yes sir, 3 BAGS FULL.
I thought about what I would say when she asked about where certain things were. I didn’t want her to feel disrespected that I had made the unilateral decision to discard her possessions but knew I would explain that I had to be fair to her and give her a fresh start and that I didn’t like that we were arguing so much about cleaning her room. Curious to know what she said? ….NOTHING. She said nothing, she has never asked about a single thing that I tossed. None of it made a single difference to her life. Main difference though is she’s happier, she’s more appreciative of the things she does get and she is spending way more time looking in her books and colouring. Success!