Two miniature Polly Pockets have smiles on their faces and sit precariously on the ledge of a table in between several tealight candles and several old DVDs of long forgotten movies, National Treasure, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Little Women to be specific.
In another corner, several Rescue Heroes have fallen over on their Aquatic Command Center Boat – and what a boat it is, it’s big enough to make the U.S. Navy just a little bit jealous. As I look closer, I see that the Rescue Heroes have fallen down on the job. They’ve either had too much to drink during shore leave or they’ve been left where they were last played—whatever the case, they’re lying headfirst on the boat. Finally, two electric slot race cars have fallen out their shiny box and look ready to zoom throughout the basement.
I take in the scene and sigh thinking of the humongous task my wife and I have in front of us. We’re in the process of going through our kid’s old toys packed away in our basement. Some toys look like they’ve been packed away by a detail-oriented warehouse supervisor who has numbered and categorized everything. Others look like they lie scattered where they were left—a part here, a part there, left willy-nilly without thought or care. I suspect little tiny hands have been at work here.
Frozen in time
Like many parents the world over, I have developed a pack rat mentality. My house has been taken over by the Ghosts of Christmas’ and Birthdays Past. In short, my kid’s former toys have taken over my basement. I’m frozen in inaction and inertia. I worry about the finality of it all. I can’t throw away the toys for fear that my kids might want them again. Yes, yes, before you say anything, my kids have long outgrown toys, action figures, and gaming systems. I still have one child at home, but he’s more interested in cars with 310 to 480 horse power (aka a Ford Mustang) than the Pixar produced and Disney released version of Cars.
With that excuse out the window, I resort to “Oh some day the toys might be worth some money” or “Oh, they might come back in style.” Anyone for the Rocket Power: Beach Bandits PlayStation Game or playing dress ups with Molly, the American Girl doll? And let me just say, back in the day, Rocket Power was an awesome cartoon. It still ranks as one of my all-time favorites. Who wouldn’t want a cartoon that promoted getting outside and playing?
If you want to know the God’s honest truth, I can’t throw away the boxes and boxes of toys, because I remember all the memories. I worry about throwing the memories away, Christmas’ where the kids were so full of anticipation that they could barely hold in their joy and excitement. And most important, I remember just chilling with my kids on quiet Saturday mornings playing with their action figures at the kitchen table or lounging together on the living room floor, zooming their matchbox cars across the carpet. I loved watching my kids have fun and, oh yea, I loved being a kid again too. Where have those days gone?
But in the end, I’m forcing myself to say “memories, schmemories.” I’m forcing myself to put the past in the past. The toys are taking up too much space: sell them, give them away, get rid of them, whatever, I must free up some space. My wife and I need it for us, for the next stage of our life.
My wife and I are trying to do the job together, but we may need to cut the other out of the picture. Here’s why. I’ll find something I’m ready to toss and my wife will say “Oh, look at that, it’s wonderful, we can’t throw that away.” Later, she’ll put something in the trash pile, and I’ll say, “Oh, we can’t get rid of that.”
If in doubt, throw it out
Despite the challenges, we’re making progress. I’ve stopped trying to remember the price we paid for items and started looking at as the peace of mind a clean house will give us. I’m trying to find the “Marie Kondo” in me. You know who I mean, the Japanese organizing consultant and author, who espouses simplifying and organizing your home by getting rid of items that do not bring joy into your life.
It’s taking time but I’m getting there. I’m taking pictures of the items instead of keeping the actual items. The next step will be trying to organize all the new pictures I’ve taken, but that’s a challenge for another day.
Which brings me to my next topic, anyone want an old bike or an old Wii play station? Speak up now or forever hold your peace. They’re free to a good home! At least, before our kids notice.