Friday, November 19, 2010

The Great Stuffed Animal Debacle

Around here, when Christmas is coming, that means it's time to purge old toys, before new ones arrive from Santa. Why? Partly because our house contains four humans and two dogs packed into 1150 square feet with no storage. There are only so many toys we can handle. But mostly because I don't want my kids overloaded with toys, and I want them to learn empathy and compassion by donating toys that aren't used so much anymore to kids who might not have any. So, last weekend was "purge time". Honestly, much of the purging is done by me, alone, while the kids are distracted. There's the donate pile, the consignment pile, and the trash pile, and lots of toys that my boys have forgotten all about simply disappear into one of those piles without them ever knowing. But, I also want Spencer and Foster to be an active part of the process, so they can wrap their brains around this whole purging idea. So, last Saturday, I told the boys to get all of their stuffed animals (I'm thinking there are at least 40 of them) and take them into the living room, so they could figure out which ones they were going to donate and which they would keep. All seemed to be going well, as they gathered an entire zoo's worth of animals and took them into the living room.

That's when the sobbing began...

I was in their room, purging away, when I heard the most heartbreaking crying coming from the living room. Thinking that one of the boys had impaled his brother with some sharp object, I dashed down the hallway. What did I find? Stuffed animals all over the place, Foster sitting against the couch with a blank look on his face, and Spencer lying, facedown, on the carpet, sobbing his heart out.

"Spencer, what happened? What's wrong?!!!" I asked, rolling him over to check for bleeding.

He looked up at me with the saddest eyes I've ever seen, tears streaming down his face, chest hitching with sobs, and woefully cried, "I don't want to give ANY of my stuffed animals awaaaaaaayyyyyyy........."

It was all I could do not to laugh. Such drama! Nonetheless, my oldest son was sincerely devastated at the idea of having to give away any of his stuffed animals. So, I hugged him, grabbed him a kleenex, and decided to negotiate.

"OK, honey, just relax. I'm not asking you to give away your favorites, or anything. Let's just give away some of the ones you never play with anymore, because there are kids who don't have any stuffed animals, and they would really appreciate having an animal to love and to play with, OK? So, let's have a look here. What about this big, yellow bunny rabbit? You guys never play with this one."

"Mommy, how can you even say that????" More sobbing. "That's the very first easter bunny (sob) Grandma ever gave me!!!" (sob, sob, sniff, sob)

"OK. Well, how about this duck flower thingie? You seriously NEVER play with the duck flower thingie, right?" (It's some sort of flower with a duck face in the middle. Don't ask.)

At this point, Foster piped in with, "I'd be OK with getting rid of the duck flower." Sweet boy...

Then, Spencer, in a tone of voice which insinuated that I was some sort of nazi terrorist said, "But he'll be lonely! He won't have a friend to be with!"

Not to be outdone, I replied: "Well, then. Let's pick a friend for him, so they can be together."

So, Spencer spent what seemed like about 20 minutes poking through his animal pile, and finally came up with a companion toy for the duck flower.

"All righty then. Let's donate the duck flower and his friend."

"NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! His friend is Bubba. You can't donate Bubba. I LOVE BUBBAAAAAAAAA!!!!!" (Wailing, sobbing, sniffling, crying.)

What followed was a total fiasco of bargaining, negotatiating ("Mommy, you let me keep Tu Tu the alligator, and I'll give you two army guys and a bouncy ball, OK?"), whining, pleading, the rendering of the historical background of every single stuffed animal in the house, and endless sobbing. By the time I gave up, there were exactly three stuffed animals in the donate pile. A tiger puppet, which both boys agreed to give up, and two stuffed animals that, technically, belonged to me. The rest went back onto the boys beds.

It must have been about midnight, when I heard muffled sobs coming from the bedroom. Of course, I did what any self-respecting exhausted mother should do -- I woke up the hubby and told him it was his turn to see what was wrong. I heard murmuring and sobbing, and then John came back in the room.

"Beth, did you give away Nick?"

"Who's Nick?"

"I don't know. Some wolf toy that Mom and Dad gave you after your surgery."

"His name is Nick?"

"Yeah. Apparently Spencer named him, and he begged me not to give him away. He's really upset."

"Of course he is." Sigh. "Whatever. Tell him we'll get Nick out of the box tomorrow, OK?"

"OK. And, there's some tiger puppet that got donated too. Do you know anything about that?"

"Aaaargh!!!" (Yes, something that sounded JUST like that actually came out of my mouth.)

"I GIVE UP! Tell him we'll get all the animals out of the box, tomorrow."

Thus ended, what shall forever be burned into my brain as "The Great Stuffed Animal Debacle."

Until next year.  Sigh.

Happy Holidays!!!

1 comment:

  1. I heard a great idea somewhere- you take all the "old toys" you think your kid doesnt play with and stay them in a bag somewhere, obviously hidden away from the child. If they miss a certain toy endlessly, they will remember and ask for it. If they dont remember about the toys you have in a bag in a couple months, I'd say toss it/recycle/donate!!