Last night I took the boys to the basement with their tote we use as a toybox. I dumped it out along with all the other toys downstairs. A few side notes: toys that a parent had to pickup went in a garbage bag and was relegated to life in the basement. Also, prior to our descent, I had thrown away all broken toys and sorted out a good share that were long gone and donated to St Vincent's Thrift Shop. The remaining toys were to be sorted in 3 totes of equal size.
1) Toy box for everyday play
3) Storage/Rotation/Sentimental Toys
Box number 1 was quickly filled, the other two remained barren. I dumped the toy box again and delivered a pep talk. I would take care of toys for the girls. Each boyo would pick 10 toys per basket. Then we would repeat the sequence in groups of 5 items.
Oh the tears shed of forced discarded favorites. How an item not meritting a rank in the top 20 still qualified as "one of my favorites" and "so special to me" astounds me. Items one child donated were plucked out by the other and traded for items in another tote. More tears, more gut-wrenching decisions. It was painful all the way around. Reminders that sets counted as one item, whether as a keeper or a donation. My oldest is clearly more attached and sentimental. With cries of "How could you want to donate that?! It was a Christmas present!" After a few rounds I deemed the rest would be donated. More sobbing and wailing. Another Oscar-worthy speech about children in the world with no toys to their name and witnessing children with 2 totes full crying about parting with toys they had forgotten existed.
Honestly it wasn't the warm fuzzy life lesson I was hoping for. Hearts weren't filled with the joy of giving. wasn't a patient parent carefully imparting and passing down wisdom to my offspring. After taking their box of treasures back upstairs, my son's Catholic guilt reared its head and he decided he should have given more and been more generous. I wouldn't describe him having a relieved face when I said we could always give more and sort through toys again on another day.
This morning though I deemed the mission a success. Bear alone has been a carpenter, doctor, batman, and princess before my cup of coffee was cold. The boys have been more interested in playing in their room than begging for more television time. The amount of toys are more manageable and easier to keep picked up and apparently more fun. Win-win-win.
For a better lesson of giving, I am considering taking the big 3 shopping to pick out a toy or two to donate. And putting together a shopping list for groceries to take to the Community Cupboard. Experienced parents, please share how have you taught your children to be generous and giving?