Somehow, I have created two children who hate to get rid of anything.
Never mind that he has not played with toy x in months, as soon as it appears in a visible pile somewhere, ready to be donated, the toy suddenly becomes his prized possession.
It matters not that that t-shirt, rarely worn when it did fit, is now too small. It might be needed! It was her favorite!
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That Board Game that is designed for children, ages 2-5? Can we give that away, now that we have a six and nine-year-old? Don't be silly! We might want to play it again some day.
How did this happen? My daughter, literally, had a complete teary melt-down this week, over a mini-Easter-puzzle that I bought on the dollar rack at Target. I donated it to the Children's Ministry at our church. I scooped it out of the dark recesses of our cabinet and had it in the bag at at the church, before any little eyes could see it. Surely, this should have been a non-event. Unfortunately, not.
Please understand, I am a sentimental sap. I err on the side of keeping, "just in case," or "because it reminds me of..." These bits of clean out are not extreme, in any way. I'm only trying to make room for the newer games and the larger t-shirts. I'm selecting from the least-loved items.
My husband, who had a childhood of two big brothers, a single mother and a lot of hand-me-downs, tries to empathize: "They are just trying to hang on to what they think is really theirs. It's a control thing." Hmmm.
Truly, my kids are generous and loving little people. They thrill to choosing their Salvation Army Angel from the tree at the mall and scouring the stores for the very best on the wish list. My son has given the friend-of-a-friend, the sweatshirt off his back, because the other boy simply did not have one. My daughter wants to share her baby dolls with the whole world. So, what is it about the act of cleaning out that is so difficult?
Maybe it's the letting go. Even when you're small, maybe it's hard to realize you're finished with something. Maybe the "turning of the page" that is still so hard, as an adult, takes root when you're a child.
I want to find the right balance of respecting their sentiment and their opinion and giving to those who are much more in need. 2014 will be our year to work on it.