Sunday, January 13, 2008

Raincheck, please

I’ve given up trying to keep the living room – Ladybug’s play area – picked up during the day. I wait until she goes to bed to pack up the hundreds of pieces of plastic food, Little People, doll furniture, crayons, stickers, balls, blocks, stuffed animals and whatever else she has dragged out of storage boxes and baskets. I’m not kidding when I say it takes me a good 20 minutes to throw everything back into its appropriate container.

As I was putting away the dishes to her new toddler-sized kitchen the other day, I realized she hasn’t been playing with it recently. The cups and plates that were scattered throughout the room weren’t from a three-course “meal” she had prepared on the stovetop but from a simple tea party on a makeshift table – an upside-down storage box covered in an old tablecloth.

The dozens of pieces of doll furniture that I had painstakingly ordered in time for Christmas were dumped in a neglected pile on the floor. The dollhouse itself was empty except for the five-member family and dog Ladybug crammed into the bathtub. Oh, and then there was the potty in the upstairs bedroom.

The clear plastic tote bag that we use to carry Ladybug’s outdoor toys was stuffed not with the new plastic bowling pin set but with a deflated soccer ball and a rainbow colored ball we got from the dollar store last summer.

Suddenly that punched-in-the-gut feeling I had on Christmas day when I looked at the dozens of boxes and bags under the tree came back. I knew we had overdone it when I was wrapping the gifts, and I felt terrible about the waste, the potential for creating a spoiled child, the guilt that there were families not as fortunate.

And now Ladybug’s birthday is right around the corner, and I’m faced with the task of telling family members not to send any gifts because she has too much. But when both sides of your entire family live thousands of miles away, gifts become the norm “so Ladybug doesn’t forget me,” as my mother-in-law would say.

Given the heaps of toys scattered throughout the house, I don’t think Ladybug will be forgetting anyone anytime soon.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe you could get family members to contribute to her college account or do savings bonds. We did the bonds for awhile and my oldest has almost $5000. He thinks he's going to use it for a car. Hahaha. Kids do tend to accumulate way too much.

January 15, 2008 at 10:23 AM  
Blogger Michelle Mahfoufi said...

We had the same thought. We opened her up an account yesterday, though we don't plan on telling her until she's about 45. : )

January 15, 2008 at 2:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We had not planned to tell the kids about them until they were strapped for cash in collage or some other time when they really needed it. Unfortunately conversations turned to vehicles with my son starting drivers ed and MIL asked him what he was going to use his bonds for. Of course he had no clue and we had to tell him about it. Now the three older ones suddenly think they are millionares. It is kind of funny. They have no clue it isn't really that much money.

January 16, 2008 at 7:31 AM  
Blogger Major Mom said...

I've had years where when anyone asked me what the kids would like I told them outdoor toys, clothes and books. Those are still fun things for people to buy and they don't accumulate (so much) on your living room floor.

January 16, 2008 at 8:02 AM  
Blogger Michelle Mahfoufi said...

Major Mom -- You're right, except that our family tends to be extremely generous. Although Ladybug is only 2, she has so many clothes to get her through the next year or so that we ask that if anyone is going to buy clothes for her now, they buy 4 or 5T so they don't go to waste. Then we pack everything up in drawers in a spare dresser in another room until she can fit in them. As for books, my parents gave us a boxful from my childhood that probably had at least 100 books. I guess I should just count my blessings that it's not the other way around.

January 19, 2008 at 5:52 PM  

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