I’ve been throwing away my kids’ toys for many, many years. Not right at first, of course. The few toys my daughter had at birth were lovingly gathered by friends and family who found the adorable elephant, the pink bunny, or the shiny little rattle. Only a monster can throw that sort of thing away.

But fast forward two years to when her brother was born, and suddenly we had a 900 square foot house full of dolls, cars, stuffed animals, princess costumes, McDonald’s toys, books, blocks, and also– a toy that lives in the dark corners of my memory– Pooh House.

Someone (I’ll blame my own mother) thoughtfully purchased her a little Winnie the Pooh house that came with a few stuffed animals and that child made us play with it for hours at a time for many, many months. There are only so many ways you can put a three-inch bear in a plastic swing and make him move. Even if I stretched to the limits of my imagination I could come up with two minutes of inventive play with that bear and his wretched stuffed friends. I was doomed to an infinity of minutes, bouncing him up and down and making him climb the stairs.

Oh, the agonizing memory.

Audrey finally outgrew Pooh House and, no matter what little old ladies say, I’ve never missed a minute of playing it. Do you hear me, young mothers? You don’t have to cherish every minute. Sometimes the minutes suck. Let it go and hope tomorrow is better. 

As much as I’ve been scarred by the memory, Pooh House really was a good investment. We got my mother’s money out of that hunk of plastic. But really, there are painfully few toys my kids have owned over the years that make that grade. My son has a bucket of Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars, lovingly collected over nine years. That bucket still gets dumped out and played with on a daily basis. Both kids have iPods, and as much as I hate to admit it, they were good investments. The Legos have been wonderful and many are from my husband’s childhood. Arts and crafts supplies are always winners. The dress up clothes collected over the years are being played with right this minute as our little friend Emery is digging them out of the closet and and giving them a new twirl. how many toys

I will not bore you with the very long list of toys that got three minutes of play, then a year in a dark toy box, and then were silently moved out under the cover of darkness to the dumpster. We don’t have that many minutes left in our lives to list all the things.

Children do not automatically become happier because they have all the toys. As painful as that pout is in the store, when the lip comes out and the sad blue (insert your own child’s eye color here) eyes bat at you reproachfully, you can overcome, dear parents. It might feel like you’re hurting them and causing them sorrow, but making them eat their carrots causes the same sorrow. So do vaccinations. So do long, boring sermons at church where they have to sit quietly for consecutive minutes.

If we focus only on their comfort and temporary happiness, we’ll have spoiled, nasty children who think every whim needs to be met. Plus, our houses will bulge with toys they don’t really enjoy. Therefore and thus, I implore you to say no to stuff they don’t actually love. And if you already have too much stuff they don’t adore, smuggle that crap out in the middle of night and let Mr. Garbageman take it to Landfill Glory.

I mean, lovingly pack it up and donate it to a thrift store so another family can enjoy it. Whatever.

So, I have two questions for you today: What one toy have you played with and hated every minute of? And, what’s the next toy that’s going to magically disappear from your household?

11 Comments on No, Sweetie. I Really Don’t Know Where Your Robot Is. (But the Garbage Man Might Have a Good Idea.)

  1. David
    September 23, 2014 at 5:43 pm (3 years ago)

    Too long ago – sorry Jessie. But Marilyn did save most of the 0-5 toys and two grandchildren have had the benefit so far (Duplo, Brio, etc.).

    But when I returned from my first trip to sea at the tender age of not quite seventeen my mother had got rid of my favourite shirt, my platform shoes, and my bike. It scarred me for life. I loved that shirt. I’d only been gone five months. And who knows what happened to my 1960s Batmobile and James Bond Aston Martin with the ejector seat?

  2. memyselfandkids.com
    September 23, 2014 at 6:25 pm (3 years ago)

    All this about children’s toys and no mention of Toy Story? I was waiting for it.
    Your excessive frustration amused me – not typical in your posts.
    At this point, my kids use little else other than their Kindle. I think that’s a shame. Anyway, there are certain toys that they used time and again that I am sure I will remember for a long time. However, I believe like you that it does not mean it has to be held on to.

  3. Jessie Clemence
    September 23, 2014 at 6:43 pm (3 years ago)

    But now that you live in the suburbs you have all the room you need to keep it forever!

    Right next to your four pack of toilet paper. 🙂

  4. Jessie Clemence
    September 23, 2014 at 6:45 pm (3 years ago)

    Back up a minute. Platform shoes?

    I’m sorry for your loss in the shirt/Batmobile areas, but PLATFORM SHOES?

    Your mother was waiting until you hit the first wave, then she had those things out of the house first thing.

  5. Luanne
    September 23, 2014 at 8:02 pm (3 years ago)

    We are currently working on getting the kids to regularly pick up all the toys that they “play” with. We, too, have fallen victim to the incessant commercial brainwashing combined with the big, Brown, moist eyes and pouty lip more than we really should have. I have very nearly reached my limit on toys strewn around the house and leaking out of their playroom. Normally, I find that I have tolerance for the toys (they are only young once, right?). And find myself purging as we prepare to move to another city, where we start the cycle over again! Oh well. Actually, Jenna is going through a drawing phase lately and every piece of paper she gets her hands on, she colors…and is always uber proud, of course. How long does a mother have to hang on to the scribbles…not that they aren’t all beautiful and I am proud of the work she does, but Sheesh!!! I am up to my neck in scraps of colored paper!

  6. Jessie Clemence
    September 23, 2014 at 9:30 pm (3 years ago)

    I hear you, sister. Caleb loves to write his own books, which amount to ten pages stapled together with a little bit of writing and drawing on each page. No more room! We have no more room!

  7. memyselfandkids.com
    September 23, 2014 at 11:20 pm (3 years ago)

    Don’t even joke!
    Truthfully, there are some toys I might have a hard time getting rid of or maybe some books. However, the list is small!

  8. David
    September 24, 2014 at 1:08 am (3 years ago)

    This was the early 70s when glam rock was at its height. The boys needed platform shoes otherwise the girls towered over us with theirs. And you couldn’t see our shoes because of our massive bell-bottom trousers. Those were the days!

    When our three older boys used to come home before they were married it was socks with holes in that Marilyn used to hunt down and throw out!

  9. sara
    September 24, 2014 at 6:25 am (3 years ago)

    I’m a bad mom–I didn’t, and still don’t play anything with my kids that I don’t want to. The “hated every minute” toys are for teaching independent play, and how to get along with siblings. That said, I loathed Polly Pockets still–I can’t count the number that ended up in my vaccuum cleaner.

    Next thing *I* wish could go? The vast, sentimentalized American Girl collection

  10. Jessie Clemence
    September 24, 2014 at 11:44 am (3 years ago)

    Oh, the American Girl Collection is a sticky wicket because here’s a lot of financial investment there.

    That being said, one of our little friends nearly died of happiness when an entire collection was passed down to her a few years ago. Everyone won– a very happy little girl and a very clean spot in a closet.

  11. Jessie Clemence
    September 24, 2014 at 11:45 am (3 years ago)

    You are cracking me up. The bell bottoms, the sock, everything. 🙂