Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Not-Wordless Wednesday

How is it possible that one child, weighing less than 30 pounds and logging in just over 3 years of life, could accumulate this much crap? These photos only represent a quarter of Violet's possessions and accroutrement.  She also has three different car seats, in three different vehicles. Violet has an extensive (albeit mostly second hand) wardrobe and a vast library of picture books. If you dismantled all of her stuffed animals and harvested the fluff, you could make yourself a pretty nice futon mattress. Grandma's house is starting to fill with toys as well. It's ridiculous. I tried for about 2 years to keep Violet's toy cache to a minimum. I respectfully asked people to purchase natural toys, instead of plastic cartoon themed garbage. I suggested books. I made lists of developmentally appropriate educational play things. Instead, I got hastily purchased, splinter-filled wood puzzles from Wal-Mart and mountains of stuffed creatures. I could hear the whispering about my "expensive taste" when it came to all things Violet. Even my mother-in-law began to express her concerns about how I "wanted too much".  I know I frustrated everyone when I declared Christmas 2007 a plastic-free holiday, but Violet already gets enough lead in her diet from the 110 year old house she lives in.  So, I gave up.  I have surrendered to the toy army and they have multiplied like a well-fed rabbit colony. Of course, my instincts were always right. The volume of available toys has not made my life easier. Violet does not entertain herself more readily.  No. Violet cannot find anything in this mountain of plastic. I actually created the mess in the above photographs, because I knew that I needed to evaluate and categorize each and every object in the playroom. I threw some stuff out (very little actually) and removed other things for donation. I organized. Violet helped a little, but she was so enamored of these toy pieces that were suddenly returned to meaningful order that she played quietly for hours.  As I finished up the monumental task of bringing order to the toys, I remembered a passage from Bill McKibben's book Maybe One: A Personal and Environmental Argument for Single-Child Families. He talks about the "irreducible rubble of books, blocks, trucks, cars, dolls, and stuffed animals" that have taken over his own home. This is a man who doesn't own a T.V. and is constantly warning us about the destruction we are causing to our fragile environment and yet even he is powerless against the toy monster. How has the world not collapsed under the weight of all this stuff already? I am disgusted with myself and yet I know that come Christmas there will be new toys and they will not be whittled out of scrap wood.  I will stretch my tiny budget to buy expensive, non-commercial toys and my efforts will be overshadowed by a truckload of shiny plastic from our well-meaning relatives.  It's okay.  We'll just take it to Grandma's house...

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