When my kids were small it was so easy to slip toys that were no longer being played with into a Goodwill pile. I even remember certain birthday parties where duplicate items were received and I could quietly place them into a re-gifting box. (Yes, I admit to that.) Even better was when birthday or Christmas abundance overwhelmed them and I could pack a few unopened boxes of new toys away high up on their bedroom closet shelves and, about June, when boredom set in, I would pull those babies down, unpack them and we would have some instant excitement with fresh new things to play with.
Then they grew up.
And became hoarders.
My son is a brand new teenager and he waffles back and forth between being a big man child and a little boy. Sometimes he wants to listen to music and text a friend and then other times he wants to dig out his hot wheel cars and play on his bedroom floor. It’s confusing for both of us. However, when I suggested that it might be time to weed through some of the toys that he no longer needs as a teenager, he agreed to my help. In the past, any room cleaning help from me has ended badly (most of that has been my fault.) You see, I’m a thrower. I see garbage (or what I believe is obvious garbage and I toss it without question.) My son sees treasure and possibilities and I inevitably throw some priceless gum wrapper away that was meant to be saved…inevitable we end up with some such melt-down-inducing-disaster.
This time I came armed with a plan. I reassured him that nothing would get tossed until he could sort through it and say goodbye. (And if that sounds dramatic, well… it is. Welcome to hormone-land.)
I laid out three bins on his floor. (Laundry baskets, actually) One labeled ‘donate,’ another said, ‘trash’ and the third said ‘sort.’ I learned this from my boss at my new organizing job and thought, ‘Hey if it works on grown ups, why not try it on my kid?’ It worked. We worked side-by-side and cleaned that space up so beautifully that he didn’t want to come out of his room.
And Apparently, that’s what teenagers do. They hang out in their rooms. So I suppose in hindsight, maybe we should have left some of those matchbox cars alone… And no, I’m not suffering a crisis of watching my boy turn into a man at all… Not me…. (sniff, sniff.)