Friday, June 12, 2009

Huston, we have a problem...

This is roughly one-third of the animal / doll population in our home. If I ever get enough time, I plan to pursue a PhD in the reproduction of stuffed animals. They are absolutely out of control here. Yesterday, I had the oldest two gather every animal and doll in the house and put them on the floor of my bedroom (nicely arranged so that all could be admired, no big piles). They did this while I was giving my final exam (praise God the tests are graded and grades are submitted!!). Then last night, I found about 12 more that they had missed. Then the gruesome task began.

I asked them to join me in my bedroom and asked them to do something akin to "Sophie's Choice". "Please pick your favorite 5 animals." Muffin was immediately overcome with grief. I assured her that we would not tell the other animals that they weren't her favorites. Muffin and Doodle each picked 5 and put them in a laundry basket. And, just for my dad (whose famous line, "Girls are for teasing" was passed on by my brothers but not me!), I said, "OK, the rest are going in the trash.... Just kidding!" Although, between you and I, I was only partly kidding-I was testing the waters here. Anyway, those top five animals went into their beds.

Next came the stuffed animal bin. They each got to put in two at a time until it was almost full. These two exercises accounted for nearly 40 stuffed animals. Then I picked out about 10 of Mator's favorite animals and put them into her bin. Then I said, "Now each of you pick ONE animal to give away. Yes, I am serious." You would not believe the tears that fell, especially from the 8 1/2 year old. I began to realize that the importance of this exercise was not in cleaning out their rooms and getting them organized. Clearly, the giving away of two or three stuffed animals was in no way going to help there. Equally clear was the realization that giving away more than one each was going to be downright traumatizing, at least for Muffin. The lesson here was going to be one of sacrifice. And at least one of us really learned it.

I cannot possibly exaggerate the sobs and tears that Muffin let loose as she was choosing one animal to give away. It's not that I can't relate. Truth be told, five or six of their animals are actually mine from when I was little. I loved my animals like they were my children too. But here's the part I really don't want the kiddos to read until they have children of their own... I actually had to leave the room so that I didn't laugh in front of them. This was the animal Muffin finally chose to give away: This two inch tall bear was almost certainly from Oriental Trading and probably valued at less than a dollar. It was given away at the dentist the last time she visited (by the way, I wish dentists would go back to giving away candy. At least with candy, you eat it and it's gone-no junk piling up around the house!) And, she has two that are exactly the same (except they are tie-dyed). The good byes for this bear lasted about ten minutes during which time I had to "go talk to Daddy for a few minutes".

When I came back, the tears had dried and Muffin and Doodle were hunting through the animals again. "Doodle said she would let me donate Boots (the one Doodle had chosen) and she would choose another one of hers to give away." Wow. Well, the lesson of sacrifice was certainly not lost on the five year old! But it wasn't enough for me to leave it at that. Muffin needed to learn it too. Please note that I am skipping the part where we talked about the fact that some children had ZERO things to cuddle and we would be making someone else very happy and while it was OK to be a little sad and miss the animal, we should focus on the joy we would be giving someone else (BLAH BLAH BLAH).

So sometime next week, we are bagging up three animals/dolls and ceremoniously donating them. And guess who else learned to sacrifice? A certain someone who had hoped to donate a garbage bag full of fiber-filled critters will now be sacrificing valuable basement storage space for a box of animals that were too precious to let go of. I still love being a Mom.

No comments: