I know I said a while ago that I wasn’t going to
muck out clean the kids’ playroom ever, ever again unless applying lighter fluid and a pack of matches counted, but I lied, okay? I might be one of those people whose personal filing system involves geological strata instead of folders but even I like to be able to walk into a room without having to wear steel-toed boots and shin guards.
So that’s what I did most of Saturday, which means the muscles in the back of my legs feel like someone beat me with the two miniature souvenir baseball bats I unearthed two hours into the job, and the hockey stick I sat on a little later.
The kids did help, to their credit, which means I’ve also gone hoarse, as Sunny’s hearing is inversely proportional to her level of boredom.
But everything is mostly in order.
The final harvest this time was two bags for the landfill, three bags of recycling, two bags of donations, and a ridiculously large pile of stuffed animals and dolls I’m going to have to throw out, too, because they can’t easily be washed, disinfected, or repaired and The Velveteen Rabbit is a beautiful lie.
The mess didn’t break my spirit, but this is threatening to break my heart.
The books were easier to pare down than this mountain of formerly-loved creatures.
How can I throw out Carla Baby, gone gray and grubby with love?
How am I supposed to let go of the Pooh Bear that was bigger than Jane when he arrived and kept her safe? Sunny’s one-eared piggie? The Very Hungry Caterpillar whose fuzzy antenna were gummed off by two Very Hungry Babies?
How can I toss the adorable hedgehog with the sock on his head. . . wait. I don’t have to. He’s mine. And the Honeymoon Haggis. Don’t ask.
But how can I possibly give up my children’s childhoods?
I can’t. I just can’t.
Which is why, at the age of forty-cough, I’ve started a Grandparent Box.
I will fill this box with the discarded bits and pieces that Man so much to me because they meant everything to my kids once upon a time.
And when my children grow up and I eventually and inevitably become another one of those discarded things, I will tell my children’s children the stories of the Grandparent Box as they hug the ladybug pillow with the missing spots and kiss the orange nose of the snowman with the tooth-marked buttons.
There is no doubt that, in the fullness of time and in the venerable tradition of my people, I will also bring a box or two whenever I visit and hide them in closets or a corner of the garage when no one’s looking.
You know, just in case the Velveteen Rabbit magic needs a little more time . . .