Why do we parents save our kids’ childhood mementos? Are we saving it all so we can occasionally rummage through the boxes and reminisce, or do we plan to give it all to our children when they are older?
If you agree with the latter, consider this scenario:
Many, many years in the future you hand your grown daughter a box of her lovingly preserved childhood mementos. You wait for what is sure to be a squeal of delight as she sifts through the treasures.
Then she screams and slams the box shut.
“Ew! Are those my baby teeth?!” she yells. “That is so creepy! Why would you keep those and why would you think I would want them??”
Hmm. Not quite the reaction you were expecting.
Quickly, you rip the box from her hands before she can see her umbilical cord encased in plexiglass. Clearly she won’t appreciate that either.
A friend of mine recently relayed a similar story to me (thankfully, without the preserved umbilical cord bit) after her father handed her an envelope that contained her 45-year-old baby teeth. This naturally got me thinking: if we are preserving our kids’ keepsakes for them, shouldn’t we put more thought into what they may actually want to see in 40+ years?
With that, I decided to purge my home of random
crap, I mean, mementos. I sorted through all of it with an “everything I am saving for my kids may eventually become theirs” lens because really, will my kids ever want this:
During my purge, I came across some gems that I am certain my kids will NEVER miss after I toss them out:
A newborn diaper (unused, of course, although I bet someone, somewhere, saved a used one). I must have kept it to show that my kid was – surprise – once the size of a newborn.
27 toddler-size shirts (yes, 27!). I’m sure that when I shoved those clothes in a corner of my closet 10 or 15 years ago the memory of my boys in those particular shirts was probably too strong to let me part with the clothes. Now I have no idea who wore what.
Results for standardized tests from grades 4-8. WTF was I thinking? Did I think they would need them to apply to college??
Two musical recorders from 4th grade. I didn’t like hearing them play the recorder in 4thgrade; why would I want to hear it ever again?
Report cards from kindergarten through high school. OK, I’ll admit I got distracted sifting through the earlier report cards because, let’s face it, no teacher will ever again tell me, “Your child is a gift!” or “He brought a smile to my face every day!” Those reports I kept; the rest got recycled.
Artwork. As much as my husband would have liked me to, I did not take photos of all of our kids’ artwork to eventually be made into an album. I am still working on assembling the first year of my 19-year-old’s baby book, so clearly I am not an album maker (and, for the record, neither is my husband). Besides, how many of these can I look at:
Now, I’m not a total ogre. There are definitely many things (too many things) that I will hold onto whether my kids want them or not: photos, playbills from performances, newspaper clippings, a lock of their hair, handmade cards they wrote that still make me a little teary, their beloved books, and, of course, some old toys.
I will NOT toss out all of their toys.
My mom gave away all of my Barbie dolls and accessories when I left for college and I was devastated! In her defense, my parents were moving and I hadn’t touched them in years, but I didn’t care. At the time, I wailed dramatically about how all of my childhood memories had been taken away and what if I had a daughter who would want those toys and blah, blah, blah. The reality was that the one Barbie I did manage to salvage was gleefully dismembered by my boys within minutes, but still …
So, just in case my boys hold some deep, perhaps irrational attachment to more than just the few stuffed animals, Lego creations, Thomas the Tank Engine trains and Matchbox cars I’ve decided to keep, I let them sift through the piles of stuff I was preparing to toss and asked what they wanted to save. Surprisingly, they wanted nothing, especially not their teeth. “My baby teeth??” my youngest asked. “Why? That’s so creepy!”