Thursday, October 16, 2014

Providing Free Material for Therapy

“Hey, come here.  Look at this picture.”

I showed my son a picture that a friend posted on Facebook, of a huge pile of Legos that her kids made in the middle of a floor.  It was so deep that you couldn’t see the carpet.  It had to be three or four feet in diameter.  Several pieces were scattered nearby.

“Boy am I glad that you guys never got into Legos.  We never really had a mess like that.  So many pieces!”  I gaped in wonder at the photo, remembering my own youth when my brothers and I would sit among the tiny plastic pieces and lose ourselves in building.  My brothers built cars and spaceships.  I built houses.  Our kids only occasionally played with the sets we bought for them.  They made messes for sure during the younger years, but thankfully they rarely contained thousands of Legos.

Look!  No Legos!

My son glanced at the picture.  “That’s because when we would get a set of Legos, we’d put them together and then you’d break them down and put them away.  What was the point?”

In an instant I felt like I had robbed our children of great futures, fulfilling careers.  They will not be architect and engineer, nor astronaut and urban planner.

I hated Legos as a mom, because they were everywhere.  It’s in my character, my habit, to insist on neatened spaces before the day ends, to start with a clean slate each day.  I spent hours when the kids were little, picking up after them.  No mess saw the dark of night.  This is an issue when it comes to Lego building.  Lego projects are ongoing, and to me ongoing projects are just a mess. 

I hated the Lego projects they constructed – they took up so much room and collected so much dust.  They’d put the things together and just sort of – leave them out.  Within days I’d lose it and break them all down and throw them into a bin with all the others.  My kids never reconstructed a particular set again after I interfered.  Eventually they stopped playing with them. 

My brother was over recently and I gave him the bin of Legos we were going to donate.  His kids are much younger than mine, and he thought that maybe one of them would inherit his love for building.  I was happy to see them go.

An advertisement came on the TV for a movie that my kids loved when they were younger.  “Oh look!  I haven’t seen that movie in forever!” my daughter exclaimed.  “But don’t we have it on DVD?  You could watch it anytime,” I said.  “We had it until you sold it at a GARAGE SALE, Mom!” she retorted.  She went on to list all the beloved movies we bought at one time and that I got rid of before they were ready to give them up.

I had no idea that I was thwarting my children’s spirit growth with every pile of toys I cleaned up and with every dust-covered DVD I sold for a quarter.   I thought I was keeping order in our home, and I am ruining their memories instead.

Is it any wonder the term Mommy Guilt is a thing?

I’ve taken away bedtime snacks, forbade messy crafts, only rarely join them outside to play, make them change their own sheets and clean their own bathroom, insist they eat salad, have made them work when they have friends over, and our history of amusement park visits is meager.  They will never forget these indignities, and they will make sure I won’t, either.

But that’s okay.  Through it all, they’re learning valuable lessons: that you can’t save everything and do everything.  Disappointment is inevitable.  Work is an integral part of life.

And by all means, save your pennies.  Therapy is expensive.

*******



23 comments:

  1. We had an enormous bin of lego - only my oldest was interested - and never the sets, he only preferred free-style lego. The youngest had instead an enormous bin of Hot Wheels and enough car track and stations to build an entire small city.

    I still have the bin of lego for someday.

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    1. I tried to save things for my kids - tried. But in the end I realized that none of their things were beloved, and I found myself wondering who I was saving it for? It's only after it goes missing do they realize they wanted it after all. ::headdesk::

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  2. I love to get rid of things. I do have a few favorite toys (legos included) and books that I have tucked away in places I don't have to see. But my children think I am a crazy person when I start reorganizing. Purging is my drug.

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    1. I do love a good purging. And you know what? I love knowing that my stuff is being used by others.

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  3. Um, I still have Zaid's pacifier. WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME? Toys though? Nah. I have a few from my own childhood (ha) but not much will be kept from theirs. Toy makers were more imaginative when we were kids. But. If you have more I do take donations.

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    1. I saved my kids baby teeth for a while. One day I was rummaging in a drawer and I came across them and thought: OMG I have a baggie full of teeth in my drawer. I chucked it immediately.

      I saved all my Barbies from when I was young to give to my daughter. She only played with a few things. She felt guilty when I suggested we throw/give them away, but I didn't care. I was glad to give them to her, even if she never used them. My goal was achieved.

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  4. My husband is the get-rid-of-stuff person around here. Good thing or we'd be under a pile of a lot of toys my kids don't need.

    And you made me think about the whole LEGO thing. Even though I abhor how many we have I AM glad my kids like to play with them.

    Now, which DVDs do your kids need, I can send them some.. ;-p

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    1. When your kids love them, you love them, too. I totally get that. My kids never got on the Lego bandwagon.

      Ha ha ha - oh, those DVDs. I never got around to going through them for our latest garage sale. To their relief I think. :)

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  5. The dog that I gave away when Cady was four, the one she never played with but still asks me about all the time, that's what will end up sending her to therapy.

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    1. Of course! Our dog died when our kids were 3 and 5. You would think that they spent their whole lives binding with this dog the way they reminisce about her now.

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  6. If I showed this post to my 14 year old, she would think I wrote it.
    LIFE. TWINS.

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    1. It's so nice to know that there's another one of me in the world. xo

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  7. Kidzilla loves Legos. I can't say I'm surprised - I loved them as a kid and so did the Hub. She is impressive with them - can whip through an instruction book or make up things on her own. I do loathe the little pieces, though, and she does like to leave her projects assembled for long periods of time. I mind them on our family table mostly because the cats go after them and that drives me crazy. But usually she moves them to her playroom and they live there so it's all good. I have no problem donating things - I happily purged our lives like crazy this summer. But with her, I feel like it has to be her choice when she's ready to let go mostly because I don't want to be the reason for the therapy session, kind of like you said. But when she's ready? Man, she is one generous little girl. I guess it's all about knowing when you're ready. Wish I was that smart...

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    1. I've definitely given away stuff that later I think, now why did I give that thing up? For the most part there are no regrets. Now, if I relied on my kids to give stuff up on their own, we'd be drowning in stuff.

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  8. Every time I think of throwing a toy or set of toys out, I think about the people I see who have handed down their beloved old toys to their own children, and I wonder if my children would like to do that. My girls randomly went into the garage yesterday to pull out the Little People things that have been sitting in a box for maybe a year waiting to be donated. And then they played with them ALL AFTERNOON.

    (Also, our LEGOs are almost always strewn about on the train-turned-LEGO table. I pick it all up once in a while, but when it's out, they go play with it. And then at night, I close the door. :)

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    1. Kids have a sixth sense about finding a new love for items that are soon to be garage sale fodder.

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  9. Anti-Lego Andrea sounds exactly like me. I like a clean slate too.
    Better start saving up for therapy, kids!

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    1. Yep. I express no sentiment about toys. Or clothes. Or jewelry. Or anything, really. Maybe photos.

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  10. You miser, you.

    However, your kids are so adorable in this picture, they have obviously retained their own personalities despite their great deprivation(s).

    PS. Really, really love their expressions.

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    1. Ha! Thanks Jennie. I'm pretty sure I gave them the bowl of snacks, gazed tiredly at the mess, and then shut the door.

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  11. I'm such a fan of clean slates that after our garage sale, a part of me was relieved to have gotten rid of so much crap in one fell swoop. (Of course, this was also my emotional defense mechanism so I wasn't sad by all the important stuff we lost. But still. Phew. EMPTY GARAGE!)

    On the flip side, my daughter Karly is a mess. Literally. It's hard to walk on her bedroom floor without stepping on a bra or two (that's a reason for therapy all on its own: mine) but this is what makes her feel comfortable. She's 15 and her life is chaos. I'd think she'd want her room to be orderly but when I straighten for her she comes home from school and says, "This is not my space anymore. It's yours." Oops.

    Every other weekend I make her clean up so we can rid our house of mystery smells, finish the laundry, return missing spoons to the dishwasher. But other than that, it's her zone. For now. And when she goes off to college in just a few short years, we can always burn it down.

    Ha. I know. I really do need therapy, right? I think there are a LOT of pennies on Karly's floor...

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    1. I meant after our garage fire. Not sale. See. I'm still a little in denial.
      THERAPY, HERE I COME!

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    2. I have actually wondered how I'd feel to lose all the stuff I sometimes feel buried under in an instant. like that. I think I'd be sad, but like you, there would be a great deal of relief. Clean slates are fun.

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