The Great Toy Purge and Near Nervous Breakdown of 2011
It's cold, the adults are pre-occupied with Christmas projects and the kids are climbing the walls. Mommy is in the kitchen when she hears a ruckus in the TV room. She figures that the kids are just blowing off steam.
Then she hears her husband say to the kids, "You tore them off the walls?"
And mommy's heart sinks, six feet underground. The only thing he could possibly be talking about is the 5 year old's brand new birthday present: Hot Wheels Wall Tracks. She and her husband rarely buy new, expensive toys for the kids, but this was different. Tracks mounted on the wall with 3M Command Strips that theoretically should peel off the wall clean. Cars propelled with the help of gravity! No tracks cluttering the floor! What could be better? The tracks have been here for a little over a week and have already provided hours of entertainment -- for kids and adults alike.
She surveys the scene from the door. Wall tracks on the floor, ripped off the wall, leaving large holes in the paint on the blackboard wall. Mommy wants to cry tears of discouragement and frustration born of weeks, months, years of toys scattered about and broken from misuse and carelessness and exuberance.
The boy is unfazed by mommy's expression and subsequent tirade.
"The wall tracks are going away," she explains in a shaky voice as she gathers the pieces from the floor. She further explains her disappointment that he has chosen to abuse his toys.
He mutters, "Okay" and continues to watch the football game on the TV.
She is gathering up the tracks when she realizes that she is so angry that she's shaking.
"Not another thing," she yells in her husband's direction. "Don't you buy them another thing for Christmas."
Danny jerks up at this statement. "But Santa will bring it."
"Oh no, dear. Santa doesn't bring toys to children who won't take care of them."
He says nothing and returns to watching football.
Mommy just snaps and begins emptying packing boxes of Christmas toys from Kohl's. It's the only way to avoid a nervous breakdown at this point. She removes the packing bubbles and the bags filled with air and throws them down in the TV room.
Mommy is just on auto-mutter as she drags boxes into the play room and unceremoniously dumps entire baskets of toys into the boxes. She's flinging phrases such as "I've had it with these children" and "They don't even play with these things, they just throw them on the floor and walk away" and "All they do is break things and walk away."
The older two wander up curiously, still uncomprehending the serious mental state they just hurled their mother into, and ask about the boxes. She gives it to them straight, "I'm giving these away to children who will take care of their toys."
She fields a minimum of grousing before the two of them return to their former activity: Jumping of the sofa to pop the bags of air and bubble wrap. Most kids pop bubbles with their fingers; hers prefer jumping.
That's right; while mommy was throwing away their toys, they were jumping on bags of air. They obviously don't need toys. Mommy takes it as a sign that she's doing the right thing. No guilt, no fear.
While the kids napped, mommy grinch slunk off to the thrift shop to donate their toys.
"Here mom, you forgot to put this track with the wall tracks," he says.
And later ...
"Mom, where are the toy boxes?"
"What toy boxes?"
"The ones that were in the play room yestertime. "
"They went away."
And, 24 hours post-purge, that is all mommy has heard about the missing toys. They spent the morning playing with what was left and after a trip to Sam's Club, they set up a picnic lunch on the carpet. Mommy happily provided the lunch and, when they were done, called in the dog for cleanup.