I Don't Keep My Kids' Childhood Relics

by Toni Hammer
Originally Published: 

In my mother-in-law’s attic there’s a giant bin of Legos as well as a few boxes of this and that from my husband’s childhood. She’s holding onto them until our kids are old enough to play with and appreciate the treasures and until we have a place big enough to keep all of these things.

On one hand, it’s kind of cool that there are still lingering items from his childhood. On the other hand, my children will never have to wait to move into a bigger house to get their childhood relics because I’m not keeping them.

No board books, no soiled dolls, no toddler hats or little girl gloves. Once my kids are done with something, off it goes to a friend or someone in need or Goodwill. Out of the house and into the hands of someone else who could use whatever it is. It’s not that I’m cold or heartless or don’t want my kids to have stuff from their childhood. I’m not a monster. I’m a minimalist.

We tend to move a lot, and I see no reason to constantly lug around permanently taped-up boxes that will inevitably just get tucked away in closets and basements until my kids are old enough to “appreciate” the stuff inside. I, myself, am not a super-nostalgic person who keeps stuff from my youth just for funsies, so I guess I’m projecting my ideals onto my kids because I’m their mom and that’s what mothers do. I’ve taught them to walk and talk and even occasionally use a fork when they’re eating which means I’ve earned the right to throw their old stuff away.

Besides, what if I do keep these drooled-on blankets and chewed-on wooden blocks only to have my children turn out like me? Then I’ve wasted all this time and closet space for no good reason. And I’d like to think that with the continuing trend of Konmari this and tiny houses that, my children are going to grow up into a very minimalist generation who will be more into pictures than possessions.

It’s not that much of a stretch to think about really. After all, we’re living in the age of smartphones and social media and the great omniscient Cloud that holds all of our pics and memories for us. So why do we need things collecting dust when images of their infancy through high school graduation will follow them around until the robots take over the world? And the whole point of keeping stuff is to remind you of a time when you used that stuff, and you can get those feel-good warm fuzzies from an image so why keep the tangible artifacts?

Furthermore, I don’t want my children to grow up being attached to things. Things go away. They get broken or lost or lose their meaning over the years. I’m pretty much only attached to my laptop, and that’s because it controls my livelihood. Otherwise, anything else I own could be tossed into a dumpster fire and I wouldn’t care too much because I fervently believe that things aren’t important.

What’s important is people. Family is important. Friends are important. Taking care of those in need is important. Things get lost or broken. People are forever. They are not replaceable. They shape who you are and who you’ll become much more than a ratty stuffed animal ever will.

I’d rather my kids grow up taking care of and loving others, and making memories with friends and family members that will stay in their hearts forever, than grow up moving boxes of their old toys into their first apartment. I’m understanding that other people feel more sentimental about this topic, which is why I find my mother-in-law’s tendencies to be endearing, but my kids will have to live without a tiny box filled with baby teeth.

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