Toys don’t balance themselves, you know

We’ve got a situation here in our house.

It’s not one that’s unique, or even notable, really, except for the fact that it’s rapidly reaching crisis proportions and action – some kind of definitive, decisive, headline-worthy action – was called for.

The situation is that we’re drowning in toys. Duplo, Lego, puzzles, dolls, games, train sets, random feathers and half a magnetic alphabet. You get the idea.

I decided yesterday that enough was enough. I took the kids out to a $3.99 a plate* dinner and informed them that sometime in the next few weeks, new rules would be coming down that would govern the in- and outflow of toys.

I call it The Balanced Toy Act.

The rules are fairly straightforward. As I explained it to the kids last night:

ABC building blocks with apple on white background“80 toys total. That’s it. That’s the limit. The only acceptable surplus of toys would be one that responds to me being lazy and letting things slide, or to an ‘extraordinary’ circumstance – that is a birthday or a Christmas with a gift load exceeding 20 items in one year. This won’t be easy. Toys don’t balance themselves, you know. Okay, maybe blocks do.”

“And blocks count as one thing,” I said, suddenly feeling guilty. “So you can have blocks and 79 other things.”

My son, who is five, was skeptical: “I don’t think I can count that high, Mama. It’s too easy to lose my number.”

He also reminded me of his independent proposal to balance the number of toys, which included a schedule for donating items to Goodwill. At this, I patted him on his head, admiring his pluck while acknowledging his powerlessness.

My daughter, who is three, hissed at me. Like, literally hissed at me. She’s going through a pretending-to-be-a-cat phase, complete with attempting to lick her own haunches and a refusal to let anyone trim her nails/claws. Good times.

So I knew my kids weren’t going to be on board with the plan, but I run the Prime Mother’s Office so suck it up they will and must.

The carrot, I explained, is that they will have a parent (me) who is less stressed, more calm, and better able to cope with daily emergencies involving nasal passages and food/non-food items.

“You’re not supposed to put carrots in your nose,” they countered.

“The stick,” I added, “is that if you don’t keep the number of toys balanced, removing one you already own for each one that you acquire, I will remove 5% of them, starting with whatever’s under the couch.”

“Mama,” the five-year-old said, “we will recover that 5% within three years if you account for inflation and associated cost-of-playing increases. But I appreciate the symbolism.”

The three-year-old, standing on a point of having to go to the bathroom, demanded to know whether sticks count as toys.

“If it sparks joy, it’s a (redacted) toy,” I said through gritted teeth.

Oh, and did I mention the motivation behind the Balanced Toy Act? It’s not simple spring cleaning, nor an offshoot of KonMari Gone Wild (although it is both of those things to varying degrees).

The reason we need to purge the plushies is because my family (parents/sister) is giving my kids an extraordinary gift, one that will take up a chunk of the limited real estate in the living room, forcing toys upstairs into the kids’ shared bedroom (which is around 100 square feet, or six square feet when you factor in sleeping surfaces, three cheers for life in the 416).

And that gift is, as you might have guessed, a piano.

Before I forget: my book on lacrosse will be on the shelves in time for the holiday season, and P is spearheading a fundraising campaign to help other families with children who are feral by choice.

Good times indeed.


* technically, a box, and wouldn’t you guess it, it came with a toy

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