This is a picture of a boat made from a hollowed out piece of soap and some toothpicks. It was made at camp this summer and has been drifting around our house for the past six weeks.
Over the past three years, John’s schools and camps have produced an astonishing number of artifacts like this. We have a surprisingly large paper mache Jabba the Hut, stacks of paintings, a clay diorama that has something to do with an island, a set of mouse ears made from a cereal box, some kind of imaginary guitar also made from a cereal box, and a life size painting of John himself. And that’s the tip of the iceberg. I assume that people who have more than one kid can hardly get in the door for all the crafts that pile up.
This is the flotsam and jetsam of life in grammar school. I know John worked hard on them the day or the week they were created, so I’m happy to admire them as they are (endlessly) unpacked from the backpack. But I also have the feeling that within a week or so, they could probably be gently repacked in the recycling bin. Perhaps to be reborn as someone else’s camp project! Circle of life.
But to John, these are treasures. Apparently every time he looks at them, he is transported back to the fun he had making them or the world he was creating at the time. They can never be recycled. They can never disappear. He needs them all. Forever. You don’t even want to see his closet.
Wise parents will probably already have guessed my strategic error here. Have you? Yes, I’m asking him before I disappear his treasures. If I didn’t bring it up, he’d never see that soap boat again and he’d never miss it. But I feel bad about throwing out treasures so I always ask, and the answer is always no. He’s never going to choose to edit his collection. I have a similar problem with toys, books and stuffed animals. Hence the insanity in the closet.
Anyway, we’ll eventually be moving to a new and hopefully much smaller house, so we’re all going to have to turn over a new leaf or two around here. (Matt, the only coffee drinker in the house, doesn’t need thirty mugs. I certainly don’t need a bin full of decades-old fabric that I might someday make something out of.) Don’t tell John, but we’re going to start paring down. More specifically, I am going to start paring down. With or without permission. I have a year to work on this. Maybe I can at least make a dent.