Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Dumpster dreaming

It's feeling like spring today, and I'm feeling like renting a dumpster. Maybe it's because the kids are doing my spring cleaning for me this year (they're now on chore #23), but I'm dreaming of disposing of things. Other people fantasize about vacationing in Disneyworld; my ideal holiday would be to send everyone away and toss a third of our belongings.

It's not that I'm an ascetic. And it's not that we have a lot of belongings compared to, say, people who live in 2500 square feet of space. I'd just like to turn down the volume on the stuff component of life. It weighs on me. Unfortunately, I'm in the minority here.

My kids do play with almost every toy we own. They tend to use many things at once. It's no fun to play with just Playmobil or just Legos or just stuffed animals or just blocks. I suspect their satisfaction rating depends primarily on how much floor space is obscured, or how many outfits can be worn in an hour. And of course the more complex the set-up, the more compelling the argument that it really has to remain intact (to be stepped on at midnight by a sleepy mom, or ruined by ignorant siblings who don't realize that you can't sit in that chair!)

The truth is, if all my kids had to play with was a handful of rubber bands and three paper clips, they could find things to do for hours. A bit of clay this week, a few popsicle sticks the next, some paper and scissors... there's a certain creative appeal to minimalism. At least, there is to me. But my kids revel in excess, in choice, in the use of kitchen implements in unusual ways that prevent further use as utensils.

So I repress the impulse to call Goodwill for a van-size pick-up. I sort through belongings and books and clothes with an eye toward who needs these things more than we do. I surreptitiously give away the few things I think no one will miss. And now that we've finally succeeded in passing on our board books and baby toys, I have a glimmer of hope that some day we'll downsize. And perhaps some night I'll be wistful for those times when, half-asleep, I stepped on a tiny Lego on the way to the bathroom.


1 comment:

  1. With only one kid in the house, stuff gets outgrown so fast I'm often wistful about giving it up.