Mom Overboard

life perserver

I am drowning in toys. Put more accurately, I am being suffocated by crap. Everywhere I look, small, plastic toys litter the floor, creep out from under the rug, taunt me to pick them up and put them away for the hundredth, billionth time. I can’t take it anymore.

The main reason my children do not lack for play things, and in fact have enough to stock a small toy store, is because of one word pluralized: Grandmas. My children are lucky to have two adoring grandmas who love them with all their heart and show it by bringing them a toy – or two, or three – every time they visit, in addition to trips to the toy store. Granted, it’s a grandmother’s prerogative to spoil their grandchildren; they’ve earned it after raising their own kids. But Kaiden and Kaya are starting to think that the word ‘Grandma’ is synonymous with Toys R Us. It’s to the point where I need a life-preserver hanging in my house so I can stay afloat above the sea of trinkets and Barbies and stickers and miniature pirates.

Forbidding any more present-buying doesn’t work. I’ve tried it, plus it pains me to take that joy away from the Grandmas. Sometimes I plead with them as they call me from the toy store, asking me what the kids are into lately: “Please, I beg of you, for the love of God only something small!” But I have come to realize the small stuff is almost worse. The little toys just get spread out all over everywhere. My nemesis: anything with many small parts or pieces. They are perfect for a 4-year old boy’s favorite game: Let’s See How Far We Can Throw These Leggos, which turns into Mommy’s Game: How Many Times Do I Have to Bend Over to Pick Up These God-Forsaken Things?

Mother’s Day weekend was a double-whammy. My mom came for a visit, bringing the kids three gifts each plus a trip to the toy store, and Siig’s mom came up for brunch, bringing more presents. Mind you, these were all minor treats, like a coloring book or tattoos, nothing big like a large plastic doll house (oh yeah, someone just passed that down to us, too). I could barely find room to maneuver around the living room. It was time. Time to PURGE.

Call it spring cleaning, call it purifying, call it what you will. I started at 9 pm after everyone was in bed and continued the next day. Dam it felt good. Broken pieces of toys, annoying parts that made maddening sounds when you stepped on them, cheap plastic cars that Kaiden would never miss, 10 stuffed animals Kaya would never know were gone. Of course, I did get sentimental. I couldn’t part with the kids’ first teddy bears, even though they barely glance at them anymore. When I had finished, I had filled four trash bags with crapola.

I’m not sure what it means that my children haven’t noticed that their toy supply has been depleted by about 50 percent. Either they didn’t use those toys anymore, or we still have so much my purging barely made a dent. But I notice. The house feels freer, liberated.

But I know the purge will only last so long. The kids’ birthday parties, and then Christmas, are around the corner. Maybe I’ll ask for a scuba suit for Hanukkah.

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