Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Toy Recall

Growing up, Amy and I were the kinds of kids who cleaned their rooms without having to be told.  Not because we were angels, but because we liked having everything in their proper place.  Aaron and Jada, not so much.  So it's a constant tug-of-war on the issue of cleanliness and possessions, Amy and I overwhelmed by their clutter and exasperated that they can't seem to keep their living areas tidy.

Having gotten through the gauntlet of gift-receiving events (Christmas and both their birthdays), Amy and I are tightening our reign even more.  Earlier this month, less than 24 hours after receiving some new toys, Aaron and Jada carelessly left pieces of them strewn all over their bedroom floor, even as they were casually playing with yet another toy in the other room.  I entered their bedroom to see the mess (and the light, nightlight, and humidifier on, no less, even though I have only reminded them to turn those things off every day for the past two years), and angrily called them in to lecture them on yet another incident of toy mismanagement.

So many times I have told them that if they don't take care of a toy, it communicates to me that they are not ready to be its owner.  So I had to follow through with this line of thinking.  I told them to gather the pieces and give me back the whole toy, and I was going to give it away to some other boy or girl who was more appreciative of it and would take better care of it.  And, just like that, they packed up the two toys in question and dutifully brought them to me, and I took them down the street to the secondhand store.

That there was no remorse, no pleading that I would reverse my judgment, was bittersweet to me.  On the one hand, it meant they respected my authority, knew they had done wrong, and were following through according to my instructions.  However, their "easy come, easy go" attitude means they really aren't ready to take care of possessions; there have been too many gifts that have come and then gone in this way (whether me taking them, or them lying around in disuse before I purge them from their room), and not enough gifts that have been cherished enough to be properly stowed away after every use.

Amy and I are trying to hold the line while not being so rigid that we break our kids.  Also, our own tidyness thresholds are being stretched to the breaking point by their constant messes.  Hopefully, we'll all make it out of their childhoods without too much therapy.

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