Rules and Obligations

My children’s lives should be full of fun, spontaneous moments, mud, dirt and laughter.

Colin’s world is ruled by rules and obligations.

Tonight he had to spin around 6 times and then “bump into Mommy” before he could enter his bathroom to take a bath and get ready for bed. He refused to eat lunch…he refused to eat breakfast. His reason? The food felt funny on his tongue.

But, he devoured the nachos his sister made and managed two hours in the pool this afternoon as long as everyone was doing what he wanted them to do.

I’m exhausted already and he’s only five.

I worry that he’ll shrivel up into a little old man from malnutrition.  I’m afraid that all the big kids at school next year will think he’s wierd.  I cry when I think about soccer practice and Colin’s inability to play with other kids on a team eve though he’s great at heading the ball and kicks the hell out of it too!!

This week it’s all about how his fingers smell.  He’ll touch something, smell his hands and then let me know if said object is worth paying attention to.

I need vacation. 

Colin needs a Mommy who’ll understand.

I’m trying.

Please Throw Stuff Away!!!

I am pleading with you…do NOT hoarde decades worth of financial documents, illegible scribblings intended to log all your medical expenses, little calendars with your mileage to doctor appointments on them, paystubs, cancelled checks, benevolent gifts and other useless tax write offs.

As a daughter-in-law of someone who never throws things away…I implore you to look beyond yourself and realize that someday, one of your children or one of your children’s spouses will spend hours and hours going through all that crap and then pitching it!

I am now surrounded by boxes of papers ready for the Shred-It people who will charge me by the pound to obliterate any traces of personal information contained therein. They charge by the pound. I have at least 90 pounds of papers.

The IRS and Medicare are tricky. You can claim expenses, itemize deductions, under certain circumstances. Most people don’t fit those circumstances. So…stop with the obsessive record keeping.

Don’t go to funerals, give a donation to the memorial fund and then write on the pretty little service program you received the amount of your “charitable donation” and the date you used it as a tax write off. That’s just sick.

Don’t paperclip or rubber band all these things together. I have to remove each and every one of those before the shredder can eat the paper inside.

Don’t keep everything in it’s original envelope with little notes on the outside referring me to the date, hour, minute and second that you spent the money or claimed the deduction. It just makes the whole process of going through your stuff even more aggravating.

If you had spent half the time, money and energy on playing with your children and grandchildren or having fun with your wife that you did keeping, sorting, filing, documenting and storing all these papers….I can’t imagine how different it would be.

You Can’t Take It With You…

…when you go. And we all will go.

I am sitting in my dining room surround by boxes of someone else’s stuff. I wish I could say that all the boxes contain memories. Some photographs, some drawings. Mostly just stuff. Years of collectibles that would one day be “worth something” are now squarely planted in labeled boxes, bins and bags on my table.

When we moved to our home six years ago, we brought Andy’s parents with us. Andy’s parents brought 70 years worth of stuff with them. No amount of cajoling, bargaining, yard saleing or begging could get them to part with anything they thought might be of value. Over the past 2 years, we have begun to weed through the piles, beginning to hand over sentimental trinkets to others in the family. Granddaughters got lovely china sets as wedding presents. Sons and in-laws picked up pretty vases and John Wayne collectibles.

Over the past ten days, Andy’s sister Sue and I ravaged the garage and the rented storage locker to rid our lives of all the stuff we’re sitting on.

Charlie has spent the last 80 years saving everything and buying more. Anything on sale…we buy seventeen of them. Anything from the Franklin Mint…we’ve got it! Anyone need industrial strength Velcro? I could pull a boat with the amount of that stuff I found in the garage. Charlie’s drawings and cartoons could take up a locker of their own. The guy is an amazing artist…or was. On par with the classic cartoonists from the half century mark, no question. I don’t understand why he didn’t make a living out of it. But he kept it to himself like everything else.

During the last two decades, he has “invested” in coins, stamps and cookie-cutter Hummels and Wysocki items with the idea that some day they would be worth something. Fancy leather-bound albums for the goldleaf  coins and commemorative stamps piled up inside his home. When space ran out, they were boxed and sent to the storage shed where no one looked at them or enjoyed them. Sadly, all the collectibles he has purchased through magazines and marketing gurus are worth nothing monetarily. Tens of thousands of dollars spent on commemorative stamps and coins translate to merely a few hundred dollars in value.

The sadness on his face when I told him that none of his precious collections would earn him any money broke my heart.  He wanted to be rich but failed to do so. He wanted to make investments but bought into scams. He hoarded all his stuff so that he could show others how well he was living but no one sees the stuff in the storage locker. 

And, then I got angry. Hidden away among all the Snoopy characters, Marvel Comic figures, Wysocki villages, gold leaf stamps, Sacagawea coins, state quarters, 26 Model cars and trucks and pristine Hess Trucks was a small box of photographs and family heirlooms. Stuck at the back of the storage locker, in a box of pure junk…precious photos of family. Inside another box in the garage…a beautifully preserved pair of child’s ballet slippers. In another bin…an envelope labeled “Japanese Junk” from Charlie’s time in WWII containing photos of two geisha girls and other relics. All the important stuff was shoved into dark crevices and corners. But…if it’s not worth money, we won’t keep the boxes.

Those things that evoke memories, tears, laughter, joy, puzzlement and heartache are worth keeping.

Those things that sit on a shelf to be dusted off…

You can’t take it with you.

Anyone need burned down, used votive candles??
I’ve got 6 of them!