Thanks to a suggestion from Allison, I thought I’d talk about ‘stuff’.
Getting rid of stuff is pretty tough for adults, but can you imagine what it’s like for kids? I now appreciate the connection to their creations/artwork and the tantrums involved when you try and throw out some random cereal box that’s been painted. Kids attach more meaning to things than I would’ve thought.
Their world is what they see around them, that’s all there is, which is a great mindfulness exercise really. Their stuff and their creations (well at least for my two) are an extension of themselves. They’ve spent time on their creations, choosing colours and materials, they’ve thought about how it would look and feel and decided who to give it to. It really does mean something to them. (Ok, not ALL art is like this, but Alpha and Lennox are very thoughtful creators. They truly do NEED to create.)
When you don’t have much say in your day-to-day life because decisions are made for you (and you just have to go along with it), I can see how you can get a little controlling about your things. Be it a ratty old pair of shorts, a picture you painted or the bed you sleep in, it’s all important and has equal value. When you’re a kid there really isn’t much that is truly yours that you can control, and if you end up having to share stuff with your sibling, then when something is yours, it’s YOURS dammit! You can imagine then, the trauma that happens when your parents come along and say “Right, you can save two plastic bins of stuff, and the rest has to go!”
With that in mind, the kids have done remarkably well with the process. Yes, we had a major meltdown when we sold Alpha’s bed* and understandably so. What was interesting is what happened to their clothes. They both LOVE clothes and have a hard time giving them up, but we came up with a pretty good compromise.
I have been working on a quilt for each kid made up of hexagons from their old baby clothes. I had in mind using clothes from birth to say age 4/5. (This is what I envisage). They love the idea that I’m turning their clothes into something they get to keep, so when it came time to cull their clothes, 99% of them became hexagons. This was hard for me to do. These clothes are perfectly good, weren’t their most favourite clothes and would’ve been ideal to pass along. So rather than passing them on, I cut them up. I cut a couple of small hexagons out of a big chunk of fabric, and the rest was thrown away. It felt very wasteful, but the kids were happy. The idea is that I can take these with me and do a bunch of hand sewing on the road and mail them home when I have a pile of them. I don’t think I can take ALL the hexagons with me, even though I really want to, but it would take up too much space… then again Nat might have some more room.
*Story time. When we finally gave the kids their own room, Lennox got the smaller room but the bunk bed and Alpha got the bigger room but didn’t initially have a bed. She slept on her mattress on the floor. We had every intention of buying her a bed, we were just lazy. After about a year of sleeping on the floor, we finally got her a bed, which she loved. Within about 6 months, we sold that beloved bed – it was of course first bed in the house to be sold.