Last week, I finally accomplished a task I've been dreading: cleaning off the shelves in the toyroom. I've needed to do this for more than a year, as they were crowded with a hodge podge of toys that no one plays with anymore. When Haley packed up her room, she had two big boxes of stuff she left behind, and I needed a place to store them, and that was it; necessity made me face the thing I didn't want to face.
It wasn't laziness that caused me to avoid this decluttering. It was just the simple, sad fact that I didn't want to really, really know this: I don't have little kids anymore. And I don't have any grandbabies. So 4 room-length built-in shelves full of toys? Probably a little bit of an overkill. But it feels like getting rid of once-beloved toys is akin to saying "I don't care about the memories attached to those toys."
Even though that's not true.
And even though it feels like it, taking no-longer-beloved toys to the second-hand shop is not the same as dropping off how much I loved that time in my life—it's not saying it didn't matter. It just means that time has passed and it is time for me to move on.
Plus we needed the shelf space.
So last week, I went through every single toy bin in the playroom. Many toys I kept for future grandchildren: most of the dinosaurs, all of the trains and the Cars cars, the beanie babies, the Littlest Pet Shops. Definitely the farm and the farm animals. Some toys went to the second-hand shop. Some were just too worn out and so were thrown away. And the things that were still good but still too beloved to just give to anyone: those things I decided to see if my neighbors wanted. So this week, my front room has looked like this:
(Minus the floating letters of course.)
I got rid of:
A1 + A2: the big Legos, even though Haley and Jake loved these. They take up SO much space and I decided that if I do have a grandbaby who loves big Legos, I can buy a new bucket.
B: the Cars cars racetrack/carrying case, which was empty because I kept all the cars. Kaleb loved those cars, and I thought he'd love this track when he was three, but he didn't.
C: the Thomas the Tank Engine roundhouse. I kept all the trains and the tracks, but again with the space. This is going to one of my neighbors' kids for his birthday.
D: the big yellow dump truck. At one time, when Jake and Nathan were little, we had two of these. They'd fill the back up with their favorite toys and then, holding on to the handles, race them up and down the hall. I think I need to make a scrapbook layout about that.
E: My boys were all big fans of Rescue Heroes. When they discontinued them and came out with Space Heroes instead, I got them for Kaleb. I think he played with them three times. This sack is still waiting for a good home, but I think they'll end up at goodwill.
F: All of the Twilight books. I just...gah. I wanted to keep them because, you know, I bought them. And I even didn't hate the first one. But the rest I read because I wanted to make sure they were OK for Haley to read. And I'm never going to read them again, nor is she, and the boys certainly aren't, so why keep them? (I usually donate books I don't want to the library, but I am fairly certain they don't need anymore.)
G1 +G2: the car rugs. You know...these are printed with a cityscape to drive your cars around. We had a little one and a big one, and many, many happy hours were spent driving cars on them. My friend Becki sent me a picture of how much her little three-year-old loved his new treasure (the big one) and it eased my heart at letting it go. It will be loved again by someone I know!
H: Flo's Diner. I actually debated pretty hard over this one. In the end, I didn't keep it just because of space. But it is SO CUTE!
I: I have three boys. You do the math on how many Matchbox cars we owned. We kept the favorites.
J: Chevron cars. I don't know...do they still sell these? They are bigger than Matchbox cars and when you drive them their eyes wiggle. They were a particular favorite of Jake at age three; they went along with the big car mat to the happy 3-year-old.
K: The left over reptiles. My mom gave Jake the Bucket o' Reptiles for Christmas right before he turned four. He loved them almost as much as the Bucket o' Dinosaurs. We kept several.
L: The left over dinosaurs. When Jake was barely three, if you asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up, he'd say "a paleontologist." Without even a lisp. Cutest. Thing. Ever. We kept a lot of dinos, too; these were the duplicates.
M: the Noah's Arc. Kaleb got this for Christmas when he was one. He liked collecting the animals: arranging them in pairs and then stirring them up and then doing it again. But he didn't love it like he loved the farm (which he pronounced "sarm"). This is going to my niece, Lydia, who is two and loves animals and will love this beyond words. It's even less sad when the toys stay in the family!
(In typing this up, I realized that Nathan and Haley seem under represented. This is because A---you can store a LOT of beanie babies & littlest pet shops (Haley's favorite) in one big Rubbermaid bin and B---Nathan's favorite toys were the Playmobile knights, and as they are also Kaleb's favorites, and he still plays with them all the time, they're not going anywhere.)
Almost all of the toys have left my house now. (Some actually delivered to the wrong freaking neighbor, but doing stupid embarrassing stuff like delivering to Ashley Jones instead of Ashley Nelson? Totally an Amy thing to do.) A few are still waiting to be picked up or delivered.
The toy shelves, while not currently barren (they are the temporary house of many buckets of other stuff, while we are rearranging rooms and getting carpets cleaned and painting walls), feel...skinnier. They feel ready to house something else—some books, I think, and boxes of fabric, perhaps. Nathan's hiking gear and Jake's violin case. It is nice to be more organized. But I'm not sure I'll ever really stop feeling that sadness over time moving on. (Which I have obviously been feeling a lot of lately, yes? Note to self: blog about something different.)
I just really, really hope that one day (but not too soon) (I am perfectly willing to wait until the right time), I'll have a grandchild who will run into my house and ask to play with his (or her) mom's (or dad's) old toys. Because they are waiting for them—the toys. And me, too.
What do you do with your too-young toys? And is it hard for you to let go of them?