Raking It In

© jb katke

It’s not what you think.

In desperation, my husband Dave, brought in the rake. The problem was the bedroom our girls shared. No, not the bedroom, but the toys in it. The result turned out to be a wake-up call for all of us.

For more years than I care to admit, I have harassed the girls to put toys away and clean their room. I petitioned them. Begged them. Threatened them. Refusing them to come out until the room was clean. Playing with them in that process was more fun.

That is when I realized two things. They didn’t have a clear definition of what clean was, and that our home lacked a thing called away. We lived in an older home that did not cater to storage. What the children called cleaning was stuffing the closet, cramming things under the bed and lining the walls.

Eventually their dad got involved. As our daughters wearied of my nagging, no doubt he did too. Out came the garden rake. We took advantage of an oversize box and Dad raked all the toys into the middle of the room, scooping them into the box to take away.

“You want your toys back? You will have to buy them out of the box; and make sure you have a place to put it.”

We never charged much, five cents for the really expensive toys. Prices dropped for things of lesser value. It went well for a while. But as time went on, we noticed some toys were not ‘purchased’ back. While the contents were greatly reduced, we still couldn’t see the bottom of the box.

The kids learned their lesson, but now it was time for Dad and I to be schooled. A bottomless box cannot lie. Through the years, we had provided too much. At Christmas and birthdays, we admittedly were generous. We had our reasons; neither of the grandparents were financially able to give much. Our effort to make the day a happy one backfired. They had more than they could handle.

That took place a lifetime ago. Our girls are out of the house now, and we live in a maintenance provided community. The rake has been repurposed into a new life. Storage, how I love organization!

The girls caught on, but still  have stuff, as do I. It doesn’t bother me nearly as much, now that they have a home of their own. Only they don’t want mine, as I continue to downsize.  I’m talking heirloom stuff. They have learned to say “No thank you.”

My life lesson continues as I say goodbye to my excess baggage. Its freeing that I won’t have to pack it up to take in my afterlife.

Too Many Toys







My husband had enough.

Begging was wasted breath. Rewards meant nothing. Bribery didn’t work, and neither did grounding. Grounding I learned, is never a good idea. It punishes the stay-at-home parent. AKA me.

Clearly our children’s concept of a clean room differed from ours. They threw things in the closet and stowed as much as possible under the bed. Leftovers were designated to line the walls. On the plus side, we never worried about a bed collapsing. Their ‘cleaning’ took all day. As buried treasures surfaced, they played.

I’m not sure if it was frustration or tired of hearing my ranting. But desperate times called for desperate measures in getting the kids to pick up their toys. Out came the leaf rake.

At the end of the day, so-called cleaning done, their dad raked what was left into the middle of the floor. It was deposited into a box. If the kids wanted them back it was going to cost them. Prices ranged from a penny to a nickel.

Who Is Learning A Lesson Here?

Eventually there were no more purchases. What’s with that? They didn’t care whether they got the rest back or not. The excess toys were unnecessary. By all appearances we all had something to learn.

Good Intentions Are Not Always Good

When Christmas or a birthday rolled around, we went overboard in gifts. The Grandparents hearts held more than their wallets, unable to give as much as they wanted. They lavished love for our children. It’s what money can’t buy, doesn’t need wrapping and takes up no space.

All we wanted to do was give our children good memories. Too many gifts multiplied by three children gave new meaning to a well-rounded Christmas tree. We have learned.

That’s the problem with parenting. By the time we learn how to do it right, the children are grown and the damage is done. We’ll do better with the grandchildren, we’ve got this.

Wait a minute, grandparent play by a different rule book, don’t they?