Last weekend our family attended a "free-cycle" event at the Unitarian Universalist church we attend. It is basically a swap-meet: bring your unneeded and unwanted stuff and leave with someone else's unneeded and unwanted stuff. As one famous physicist said: "[stuff] may be neither created nor destroyed; it merely changes [residence]". But I digress. In an effort to clear out some of the detritus of pink and purple plastic that litters our family room, I suggested to my daughters that they might wish to cull their toy collections in order to share share the wealth, so to speak. "Does that mean we can bring home new stuff?" Once that possibility dangled out there like bacon before a labrador, the gathering began in earnest.
My ten year old ("B") willingly packed up her Polly Pockets, her Sweet Streets houses, books, games and all sorts of other goodies with an almost competitive fervor. My eight year old ("A") started out gamely, but quickly had second thoughts, even about outgrown clothes. "But I used to love that doll; I remember I always playd with her outside in the summer...."; "Grandma gave me that stuffed animal when I was 4"; "but that's my candy-cane dress; I love that dress!" I didn't fight her on it. I just told her she had to take up her own closet space storing her "keepers".
Later on, B commented on how much more she had contributed to the van-load headed to church than her sister did. I explained that some of us just have a harder time parting with things and maybe when she gets older, it will be easier for her. "I don't think so, Mom, " she said, "I think it's because of that time you sold her bed."
Oh, lordy, lordy; that time I sold her bed. I had forgotten about that. Five years ago now, when A was 3 1/2, we had a yard sale. We had decided we were meant to be a family of 4 (humans, that is) and planned to sell all baby items in one fell swoop. The better to keep baby-temptation at bay, I thought. I always was the clean-break sort of gal. We had a lucky convergence of grandmas early in the day that saw the baby clothes, pack-n-play and strollers disappear quickly.
As soon as A woke up that summer Saturday, I ripped the sheet off her little toddler bed, tossed it into the wash, hefted the bed and mattress out to the driveway and slapped on a price tag. In less than an hour it was sold. As two women carried it away, my baby ran out of the front door yelling - "Momma, that lady's takin' my bed! That lady's takin' my bed!" "Honey, I said, "it's okay. She paid for the bed; she bought it, like at a store. You're getting a new big-girl bed." "But where am I gonna sleep Momma? That's my bed! She's takin' my bed!"
Along with the bed, most of the remaining customers drifted away, eyes averted, as she bellowed. I had ordered lovely white iron beds for the girls, which had not yet arrived. A and B shared a double bed from my pre-marriage days until the new beds came in a few weeks later. When the beds came in, each girl chose her own bedspread and sheets. I thought all was forgotten, but no, mother-guilt, like the hand of Carrie, reached up from the ground all bloody and horrifying, to rip my heart out.
Oh, well. It'll give her something to write about when she's a grown-up. Now about those wire hangers, girls....