When Your Kid Is Too Attached To Stuff

Jan 10, 2017

Please don’t give my kid another thing. Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for the thought. But sadly, thoughts are all we have room for.

You see, my house is small and it's crammed full of stuff. We’re drowning in abandoned art projects, pseudo-science experiments and oversized stuffies. Every nook and cranny is bursting with broken toys, dried out markers and plastic bits and pieces long estranged from the original toy.

I’m desperate to do a major cull, pare down and finally get rid of all this junk — but I have one problem: a nine-year-old hoarder is blocking my feng shui.

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For her, everything is “special.” That doll she never played with is special. Her old toddler fun-fur jacket brings back fond memories. And last year’s homework reminds her of the good old days. Doesn’t she realize sentimentality has no place in our small urban home?

Imagine the horror last Christmas, when my in-laws presented her with a giant stuffed panda. It stands almost five feet tall and takes up half her room. My heart sank when I watched her eyes light up as she received it. I knew that this oversized fuzzy interloper would become yet another much-loved thing taking up permanent residence. When it's bedtime, or we need to the open her closet, it takes two of us to wrestle it into the hall.

But the truth is that our things do remind us of very special moments.

I ask myself, where does it she get it from? Why is she so attached to stuff? And then I remember that time in the basement with my husband. We were gleefully scouring boxed up junk for our street sale while the little collector was conveniently away. I pulled out an old blanket to chuck into the outgoing pile when my husband remarked that it was the very blanket our daughter learned to roll over on.

Suddenly that old blanket became special — it brought back a flood of memories, and reminded me of the good old days when rolling over seemed like a major accomplishment. Was I really going to hand over my kid’s babyhood to a stranger for a quarter?

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This is where the slippery slope begins (and yes, I watch TV, I know how far this can go). But the truth is that our things do remind us of very special moments, and sometimes giving them away feels like handing over not just stuff but pieces of our lives.

So for now I’ll look the other way when she retrieves junk from the garbage and puts it into a growing pile in her room. At least I can take comfort in the fact that she’s having a childhood she wants to reminisce about.

One day I will have an uncluttered house. But for now, I’ll stop worrying about it. Instead, I’ll go and clear a space on the couch, push aside that stuffed panda and cuddle my kid. I want to hang on to all of it for as long as I can.

Article Author Laura Mullin
Laura Mullin

Read more from Laura here.

Laura Mullin is a playwright, director and the Co-Artistic Director of Expect Theatre and PlayME Podcast. Laura is passionate about the arts and works in theatre, film, and new media. She lives in Toronto with her writer/producer husband and their budding fashion designer nine-year-old daughter. When Laura isn’t writing plays or turning them into podcasts, she can usually be found picking up tin foil and duct tape off the floor after one of her daughter’s many avant-garde art projects. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @expectlaura.

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