Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Sea of Stuffies and a Hoarder

I am a bit tired of picking up stuffed animals. One of my children has a real obsession with them. (Did you know boys could be like that? I didn't.) The animals seem to be having babies or something because they are multiplying.

To complicate this growing problem, that same child has recently entered a "please-please-please don't put it in the garbage" phase. Everything from scraps of paper to broken toys that are tossed in the trash is very disconcerting for him. A couple of nights ago he came out of his room (after being put to bed) with HUGE tears welling up in his sweet little eyes. What was the matter? He was very concerned about the tracing paper that his older brother had thrown away earlier that day. The paper was all drawn on and has served its purposes well and the artist himself had decided it was time to toss them. As far as I knew, my little hoarder never even knew the drawings existed until we went to throw it away. He came out of his room clutching the garbage can. I could see his panic rising.

Not that I want to always take to throwing everything away (that's wasteful), but it is nice to give things away, recycle, and, yes, toss. But to him, it is all the same: if it leaves the house to not return, it is painful. "Where is it going, Mom?" "Will it EVER come back?" "Where does the garbage truck take it?"

So with a child who can't part with trash, how am I to control the stuffed animal overpopulation and the mounting scraps of scribbled-on paper? Two words: NEGOTIATION (he is an incredible negotiator, BTW) and PERGATORY.

We lined up all his animals and I told him he could keep two of them and the rest would go "on vacation." (In our house, when a toy goes on vacation it is stored in a bin for a while and then later brought back out.) His eyes lit up knowing he would not lose anything. My little negotiator talked me into doubling the number of stuffed animals he could keep. Eh, I'm a pushover. Actually, I let him know that so long as he was able to manage all four and I was not always stepping over them or picking them up, four would be fine. (I have Diane Moore to thank for that idea.)

What my little sweetie does not know is that this vacation is really more of a PERGATORY. Today, while at his T-Ball game, I scoured the big boys' room. All the trinkets and junk and random collections and extra stuffed animals were sorted through. Much of it was placed in a big box that I marked PERGATORY. If either of my children say, "Mom, do you know where my ____ went?" I can say, "Hummmm, I will keep my eye out for it," and then pull the missed item out of the box a little later. But all THE OTHER not-so-missed items can stay put. At some point, I will trash/give away the contents of that box... when I am fairly certain it is safe to do so.

Honestly, I am "a tosser" and I would rather just send it to the curb right now but out of respect for my kids, I need to not just toss what might be precious to them. I will tread lightly (especially while my one child is in such a "keep it!!" phase) and recognize that while their things might not have value in my eyes, they are valuable in theirs. And that is enough reason to keep something around... for now.


Pate Family said...

Because I think I have your same child living in my house (how is that possible?) I really embraced your toys on vacation plan. Hudson obsessed over the toys that were gone. There were 3 that he asked for constantly! When I finally said they could come back, but he had to pick three new ones (of the same size- one was big that was gone) to go on vacation you would have thought I told him every single toy he has ever owned was being thrown away. At least I have Ainsley, who like me, would rather throw it away than clean it up again.

Ginger@chirgies said...

pergatory...BRILLIANT! I'm right with you, toss, toss, toss! Perg. seems like a grace-full version of tossing. :)

Greg and Andrea said...

We, too, have a hoarder (well, two actually, because the younger does EVERYTHING that the elder does). I admit I have a hard time throwing things away, and so I sypathized (a little). Something that is working out very well for us is the small item "treasure box." Each kid has a shoebox size plastic bin (with a lid) on a shelf in their room that holds those scraps of paper, random little preschool prizes, tiny seasonal notepads, and any other item deemed too precious to pitch. When the boxes are filled to the max , we go through them, and the kids have to decide what stays and what goes. Usually enough time has passed that a bunch of the treasures have lost their elevated status and become trash.

Greg and Andrea said...

Don't you wish "comments" were spell-checked?