It is a story that just needs to be told, and I haven’t written exclusively about the boys in this space for a long time, and it’s time.
The boys have a play room over our garage. They almost never play in it because they want to be downstairs where the action is. I get it. Mostly the room is used for when friends or cousins are here and magically they want to be alone or as far away from their parents as possible.
Essentially it’s a place to store the overwhelming amount of toys they accumulate. There is seriously nothing more perverse then the amount of useless, one-time played with toys, these two have. Nothing.
I used to be really great about cleaning out all the toys once per month, while they were napping or at preschool since I had to do it in total secrecy, and then donating huge bags of them. I have used birthdays as an opportunity to donate toys to the Children’s Hospital and have refused grandparents, aunts and uncles from buying one.more.toy.
But still, they multiply.
Finally, this winter when the guilt about how much one has is at its peak, I decided enough was enough. They don’t use the room to play in, don’t play with the toys in it and are now, at age six old enough to donate their own toys and convert the room into a work and craft area.
If you read The Rundown this week you know they were gifted desks from their grandparents for Chrsitmas so the timing was perfect to clear out the toys once and for all.
A week prior to Christmas the boys woke-up to me cleaning out the play room. They went berserk, as expected. I settled them down by screaming something like “RELAX!” which of course was very relaxing, and then told them the deal:
- We are donating most of the toys in this room.
- You each have two small containers to fill with toys you want to keep so choose wisely.
- It’s Christmas and you two are spoiled beyond belief while other kids have nothing. I restrained myself from saying something like “there are toy-less, hungry children in Africa,” but it was hard.
They accepted my terms (since they had no choice) and proceeded to fill their containers in under 10 minutes and then started playing.
My husband and I continued to fill two giant bags of toys.
Afterward, the room looked amazing and in the following days we transformed it into a nice working area which is much more appropriate for them.
Last weekend, I took them to the YMCA. It’s very unusual for the boys to be there anymore since they’re in school most of the day and, on the weekends they usually go to my husband’s gym. Yes, we have separate gyms. #FirstWolrdProblems
However, from ages 2-5, they pretty much lived in the YMCA childcare and they love it there. So, I announced we would be going to the Y, I would do my workout first and then take them swimming in the indoor pool. They were super excited and I was happy to kill at least four hours of solo parenting on a Sunday.
Full of sweat and happiness post-workout, I proceed to pick them up from the childcare area. As soon as I walked in they both got up, bolted to the back of the room, pulled out one of those plastic kid’s shopping carts which was overflowing with toys, wheeled it over to me like two tiny gangsters and declared “THESE ARE OUR TOYS AND WE’RE TAKING THEM BACK!”
They had filled the entire shopping cart with the toys I had donated.
The woman who works there looked at me sheepishly, shrugged and said “Yeah, I guess they want their toys back.” But her eyes said “You have devil children.”
Oh. My. God.
My head started to spin. It was one of those moments when I looked around the childcare, and seemingly every single kid was playing with a toy that used to belong to mine. The boys had their hands on their hips, Vaughn was crying, Miles looked like he may just take every damn toy in there and good luck trying to stop him, and the childcare worker looked both utterly helpless and completely appalled.
I just laughed. Out loud and hard.
I mean, what the hell else could I do? I completely forgot that of course I had donated all the toys to the Y since they are always in need, but I never dreamed what a scene it would be if the boys went there and were suddenly forced to not only share each and every toy, but abandon them there for (gasp!) other kids to play with. It was ridiculous.
I relased their kung-fu grip from the handle of the shopping cart and brought them into the hallway, amidst accusations of “How could you?” “That was my Dave!” “One of them is a Christmas ornament mom! How could you give away a Christmas ornament?”
I tried to remind them of our deal with their playroom toys, and had them look back into the room to see how happy their toys were making the other kids. I even attempted to relate it to Toy Story 3 when Andy’s mom donates all his toys to Sunnyside Daycare and makes all the kids super happy which was only met with more tears and “that’s a movie that isn’t reeeeaaaallllll!”
So I changed tactics.
As luck would have it, we were going to Toys R Us that very day to spend gift cards they received at Christmas. I told them they could take back a toy if they wanted, but they would not be able to buy a new one.
Problem solved. They completely forgot all about it by the time we got into the pool and have mostly forgotten about it all together.
Did they learn a lesson? Probably not. Will they remember this event? Not likely. So I guess I’m the only one who has learned something here and I want to pass this wisdom on to all other parents – – > Don’t take your kids to the place you just donated all their toys to!
What kinds of things have your children (or other people’s children) taught you?
What do you do with ALL the toys your kids accumulate?