Yesterday, I dismantled the playroom.
It's a big room, and of course, was FILLED with toys and cardboard and feather boas and guitars and drawings and cardboard and elastics and more cardboard and lots of toys. Also there may have been a few dust critters lurking here and there. And some sawdust. A few tiny screws. Electronic parts. Bucky had been getting up to some questionable experiments down in the basement this summer.
I'd laid down the law a few times and demanded that they go find the floor. "It's YOUR playroom," I'd bark. "I do not play in there. You do. Pick up your stuff." They'd groan and moan but eventually there would be enough space cleared to get in there with a broom. I thought this was progress. I thought last weekend's afternoon of decision making regarding what gets kept and what goes was another leap of progress.
I WAS WRONG...
Turns out my packratting tendencies have been learned by the next generation.
I found things stuffed into corners, under that curtain they wedged behind the shelf to make a target practice range, and under the desk. I'd been encouraging them to pick things up and put them in a container all these years, but maybe I should have been more specific, because I found all kinds of things hiding in anything with sides and a bottom.
Just as I spent most of the summer purging and decluttering, and wondering why the heck I kept a plastic bag full of dried up markers in a drawer, I tossed dried up elastics into the garbage bag with disgust. Why are we such hoarders? Why is it so hard to let go of stuff? And why, why, do I feel the need to share this with everybody???
Well, sometimes wading through all the junk reveals a few treasures, people. Just like my theory that the junk of today might be the antiques of tomorrow. Yeah, I said that and you can use it as long as you mention you got it from me. You're welcome!
A few of the treasures unearthed in the playroom:
Bucky's collection of rocket prototype drawing from when he was about six
Tribble's story books, consisting of several blank sheets of paper folded and stapled. Most of them are unfinished and I'm dying of curiosity - what did the unicorn say?????
a few mother's day cards that escaped going into my special "sentimental value" file
Bucky's intricate drawings of very expressive dragons... which just happen to have whiskery muzzles like a horse
Tribble's paintings of brown horses with four white socks
rule cards for a number of confusing made-up games
lists of dragon/ knight/ rocket/ imaginary kingdom/ horse/ queen names
Father's day coupons "because Daddy wourks so hard al the time."
So out of five drawers of scribbled on, painted on, glued on paper, I salvaged about a two inch depth of paper I have to keep. I have to. I was sitting on an upturned toy bucket with the plastic cabinet in front of me, the recycling box on my left and desk on my right. The recycling box was full by the end of the night. My heart was just swelling because looking through all of this junk reminded me of a time when my kids weren't teenagers yet, and they still gave me pictures with "To MOMMY" written at the top. I have to keep the best of it.
Then, because I'm insane, I washed out the drawers and spent the evening scooping little bits of Playmobil out of a broken cabinet and blowing the dust critters out before dropping them into their new clean drawer. Insane, people. Insane. I sorted all the Lego out of the Playmobil and yes, I know the difference between Lego and MegaBloks, and the Bionicle got its own drawer too. These were not cheap toys. It's all they ever wanted. We would give them one gift, and it would be that special and extremely necessary new Playmobil or MegaBloks Dragons or Harry Potter Race Car Dinosaur Lego. One gift, make it count. Each piece represents money I had to scrape together and the knowledge that it was appreciated. I have to keep this stuff. The scattered bits of broken or cheap stuff went away, the rest lovingly packed into a box for the Goodwill, but these treasures will stay with us.
I mean, these things have graduated from mere toys to valuable movie props. Valuable!
I scooped handfuls of tiny toys and piled them in my lap while watching So You Think You Can Dance Canada and Dancing With The Stars Who Think They Can Dance.
Haven't gotten diddly squat done today, but I'm thinking how much easier this move would be if all of our stuff was Playmobil sized.