In the land of pack rats

I made a big mistake this week. Actually, it all started as a brilliant idea: yesterday while the kids were gone to Vacation Bible School, I decided I would clean out their rooms and throw some junk away. I filled up two large trash bags with odds and ends from their rooms–wads of bubble wrap, broken pencils, cheap McDonald’s toys, used-up coloring books, artwork (which, in Perrin’s case, involved mostly stick figures with butts), old birthday cards, empty water bottles. This is the definition of trash, correct? I bagged everything up, and because my hands were full with some games and books that belonged elsewhere in the house, I stuck the bags in the hallway outside the kids’ bedrooms and told myself I’d come and get them in a few minutes. That was my big mistake.

After putting the other things away, I remembered I needed to move a load of laundry from the washer to the dryer. Then I took a peek at my work email and realized I needed to respond to something. Then I looked outside and saw that my poor gardenias were turning brown and wilting, so I watered them. While I was outside, I saw that the hummingbird feeder needed to be refilled. It was like a terrible grown-up version of “If you give a mouse a cookie.” Then it was time to get the kids.

You can probably guess what happened. The kids saw all of their beloved possessions bagged up, ready for the trash can. Pandemonium ensued. They both sobbed as they attempted to rip open the bags and rescue their treasures. I mentally kicked myself for forgetting the stupid bags. Perrin held up a styrofoam cup with a hole in it and asked WHY I would dare to throw away the megaphone he made five years ago. Clearly, I’m a monster.

Fortunately, a lot of the stuff I’d taken from their rooms was hidden under about fifty sheets of bubble wrap (don’t ask… Perrin’s a hoarder), so even though I had to dig out a few things that they noticed, I managed to actually get some of the junk out to the trash can. Success! …Or so I thought. For the next 24 hours, the kids kept noticing things that were missing from their rooms, and the tears would start all over again. Perrin can never seem to remember what he did at co-op or Royal Rangers an hour after the fact, but he apparently had a mental map of every piece of trash strewn about his bedroom floor. “Mom, where is the blue cord? It was very important to me! Mom, there was an envelope sitting on top of my dresser! That wasn’t trash! Mom, I liked that crumpled-up paper bag!” I drew the line at the paper bag, but I did end up retrieving some things from the big smelly trash can. FIVE TIMES. I can’t decide if that means I’m compassionate or just a big wuss.

I know every parent can probably relate. Kids never want to throw anything away, and as cute as their little drawings and crafts are, there comes a point when you have to say enough is enough. Just take it from me and don’t forget to get rid of the dang evidence.

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