Monday, August 15, 2011

Keeping Your Promise

"If you want children to keep their feet on the ground, put some responsibility on their shoulders." ~Abigail Van Buren

We definitely need a plan. As in, on weekends when we don't have anything planned, my wife and I need a plan. Because then we wake up in the morning, stare blankly at each other, and find ourselves allowing the Peanut to watch an hour and a half of Strawberry Shortcake cartoons.

Not good.

Or, what happened this past Saturday morning happens. My wife will decide, out of the blue, that we need to do something. Something we've been putting off. And that we need to do it immediately. Right. Now.

So she decided to drop a bomb on the Peanut and tell her we're going to go through the playroom, and get rid of some toys. Three piles: garbage, donate, baby (as in, still-yet-to-be-conceived second child).

As you could imagine, this did not go over well. The Peanut needs to be warned. Prepared. We can't just hit her with the unexpected. Even if it's a good thing like watching a new movie or going out to breakfast. She needs at least 24 hours notice, and she'd like it in writing whenever possible.

Crying started almost instantaneously, and continued throughout the process. And because the Peanut resisted my wife's every move, somehow I was getting in trouble. "I could really use your help in here, daddy."

To which I would have liked to have answered, "Listen lady, you're the one who shattered the peace of our otherwise uneventful weekend morning by deciding to discard part of our daughter's childhood and disassemble a corner of her world. Now that she's mad at you, you're mad at me?"

But I just said, "ok." And went into the playroom. I pick my battles. And I agreed that, like a forgotten library book, this exercise was long overdue.

The Peanut fought for every toy. "But I love that toy," she'd say. She protested when my wife called something junk. "No it's nooooot," she'd whine.

She cried. Over. Every. Single. Little. Toy. We didn't even get to the big stuff. It's hard to rationally argue with a 4 year-old who insists the Happy Meal toys that my mother-in-law bought her two years ago were "her favorite."

And the ones she didn't love, or that weren't her favorite, were conveniently, "Giada's." As in, her Lammie's. "That's Giada's toy. She plays with it all of the time." Cunning.

My daughter has the makings of a shrewd negotiator. Perhaps an attorney. Possibly a criminal mastermind.
This is what she's giving up...

...and what she still has

Finally, I volunteered my only useful bit of parenting to this whole charade. I reminded my daughter about her New Year's resolution. The one that inspired her teachers, other parents, and many of the readers of this blog. The one that filled our hearts with pride and our eyes with tears. The one where she said she wants to share her toys with kids who don't have them. I wrote it about here.

Her response? "I don't want to give my toys away anymore."

Now it's up to us to make her keep her promise.

How soon we forget.


  1. And this is why I clean out toys when they are not home or are asleep. Out of sight, out of mind.

  2. Yes...excellent point. The Peanut remembers stuff, though, Maybe we'll be less calculating with the second.

  3. What is it with us women and our need to "do something' on the weekends?
    For what it's worth, I think there are a LOT more things worse than an hour and a half of Strawberry Shortcake on a Saturday morning. I'm sure The Peanut will be okay. At least you were able to get a few things to get rid of.
    Be careful though, she may want to replace that stuff with more stuff. ;)
    When our middle guy came to us saying he wanted to donate some toys, it was because he thought that meant we'd have room for newer, cooler ones.

  4. Awww I remember this from my childhood. I love the quote at the top! This is a very important lesson to teach your little girl... keep it up!

    Thanks for the kind words on twitter! Following you now! :o)

  5. Thanks so much Jamie! Glad we connected (thanks Evin).


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