If you're one of the two or three people (thanks for your support) who has been reading this blog this summer, you know that I have been working really hard to clean and organize my house. It seems to be getting smaller by the day, and a major contributor to that feeling is my son, Zachary. He has an art desk in the corner of my dining room that I have organized, toys in a metal bucket in our den, a bookshelf in the hallway upstairs, and his room and closet full of toys. I would rather everything be kept upstairs, but we just don't have that kind of room, nor do we have an extra room to turn into a playroom. Zach watches way too much TV, and doesn't play with most of his toys. What he does play with, he drags downstairs in the den, and plays with them in front of the TV. When I ask him to take his things upstairs and put them away, he either throws them in his closet, or in the middle of his room. I don't clean in there often, because I get too angry.
Zach's birthday party is this Saturday. I am sure he will be receiving many more toys, so I decided that this was the week where we would make room for those new toys. I sat him down this morning and explained that we cannot possibly keep everything (since a lot of his stuff is junk like Happy Meal toys), and if he wanted to be able to get new toys for his birthday, he was going to have to be willing to sell or give away some of his toys. I've had this bad habit in the past where we pack outgrown toys into plastic tubs and store them in the attic, but we just can't do that anymore. Since I am having a girl, she will probably have completely different interests from him, and will want brand-new toys of her own.
Zachary was pretty understanding, and we started out by cleaning out the metal tub in the den. We got rid of about half of its contents, and sorted the rest of the stuff. We then moved upstairs to his room, where things took a definite turn for the worst. I got busy by cleaning out the drawers of his built-in desk, and asked Zach to straighten the books that were all over the floor. We got an empty laundry basket, and I told him to put anything he was willing to get rid of in that basket. I also convinced him to sell all of his Thomas the Train pieces, since he no longer plays with them, and they take up a lot of room. We have several playsets, lots of track, and about 40 train pieces. I'll have to take pictures of them later and post them on one of the local auction sites, since we are not allowed to have garage sales here.
After the books, I asked Zach to go through the set of bins underneath his window, make sure all of the items in the bins were alike, and choose some of the things to get rid of. He looked through them for about 30 seconds, then sat down on his bed and said that he was tired. I began to lose it at that point, but kept it under control. I went and helped him with the bins, pulled out items that didn't belong, and told him he had two minutes to get the things put away correctly. He took about half of the toys, walked over to his closet, and threw them in. Then, he sat down on the floor and began to play with something. I threw the rest of the toys in my laundry basket, then started tossing everything that was out of place to the center of the room. There was a 2-foot pile of trucks and assorted plastic pieces piled up in a corner, which went to the center of the room. Zach continued to stand and watch me.
At this point, I really became angry. Why should he get new toys for his birthday if he doesn't play with or take care of what he has already? There is no room for anything else, and that really became apparent when I went to the closet. The floor was so full of toys that you cannot walk in the closet, so I tossed all of that into the room, as well. I found food on the floor under all of the toys, clothes balled up, and toys that he had begged me to keep from earlier in the summer, just thrown in there.
OK, here's where I go psycho: I told Zachary that he cannot leave his room until it is clean, unless it is to go to the bathroom or eat. He didn't argue or complain, just sat there and looked at the mountain of toys on the floor. I know it's a lot to expect of a first-grader, but I am not going to keep doing this every couple of months. Maybe he'll see this time that I am serious, and that he has to take better care of his things. I just want him to keep pieces of toys together, and put them back when he is done playing with them. I don't think that is an unreasonable request, do you?
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