Monday, July 16, 2012

Perpetual Lessons: Too many toys

There are lessons that I teach my kids repeatedly.  Lessons that sometimes I think, "How can I have to tell you this again.  We have proved that it is true so many times over."

And usually, while I'm in the middle of an exasperated sigh about the repetitiveness of it all, Ivy shows up.

Ivy is my inner voice.  (Inner Voice --> I.V. --> Ivy.  Yes, creative genius here, I know.)  Ivy is sarcastic.  I'm not sure inner voices are supposed to be, I thought they were supposed to be sweet and reassuring.  Mine is not.

Anyway, Ivy shows up to snicker at me.  She doesn't even have to say anything.  Just raises her overly plucked eyebrow at me, peers over her trendy glasses (which I'm sure are just for show.  We have good vision...) and snorts disdainfully because she knows I'm being hypocritical in what I'm trying to teach.  Because based on who their mother is, it is not a huge mystery why my children need the same lessons repeated ad nauseum.

For instance, this morning the family was having a sweet, peaceful breakfast together where everyone was singing cheery songs in three part harmony, eating their healthy breakfast with nary a whine or a hesitation and allowing me to sit in serene maternal happiness as I drank my coffee with no requests for juice or a different color cup or squealing for"a tissue for my gigantic booger!"   Typical morning.

Liam, who had already inhaled his breakfast, was off playing on the floor.  He spidermanned himself along furniture to his overflowing basket of toys.  He then proceeded to pull out every toy and toss it aside.

He did not play with a single one.  Just scrunched his chubby face into a determined sort of scowl and pulled them all out.  Then he crawled away.

I said, "Liam, why did I leave your basket so full of toys again?", knowing full well that it was due to Cleaning Laziness Syndrome, a common ailment around here, where it is easier for me to toss the baby toys into the basket than take most of them back downstairs to the playroom.

"Liam," I continued, "Your problem again, like so often, is that you have too many toys.  It is a proven fact that true happiness in playing comes from having fewer things to play with.  You will enjoy your toys more if I only give you one or two of them."

It's true.  Given one tupperware lid, the child will inspect it, bite it, bang it, toss it, chase it, hold it on top of his head (?), bite it again, wave it around, etc. for 10 full minutes before moving on to something else.  And he's done it happily the whole time.  That chubby scowl not appearing once.

"Liam, let's put away some of those toys.  You'll be so much happier.  You think you want lots of toys to play with, but I promise you'll be happier with fewer things.  Your problem is there's too many distractions for your little mind to decide what to play with. "

Just then Ivy poked her head around the corner, raised that annoyingly skinny eyebrow, glanced at my computer, my phone, my kindle and my pile of assorted junk taking up the counter.  That pile of my "important stuff that I have" that has been alternately calling to me, tempting me, frustrating me, cluttering my counter and generally putting me in a bad mood for, well, ever. Because there are too many "important things" there for my little mind to decide what to work with.

Then Ivy snorted at me, rolled her eyes and left the room.

I muttered a few choice comments about pretentious inner voices and went to thin out Liam's toys again.

And my own. 


  1. I've got an Ivy, too, although I didn't know her name. (See? You're very creative!) She's rather ugly and is good at tying my little head in knots. But sometimes her honesty (and you can't always trust that she's being honest, but often she is) is eye-opening. I have these moments not only with my kids, but also in violin lessons, which makes me want to stop in the middle of them sometimes and shout, "Did you hear what I just said? Can we take a five-minute break while I apply that to my life, please?

  2. LOVE this.Love love love it.

    You are a wise lady. (or Ivy is at any rate- but I've got a feeling you're nice than she!)


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