As a father of a 5 year-old and a nearly 2 year-old, I recently discovered a phenomenon that may be obvious to others, but was new to me. Kids can’t process too many choices. They freeze up and just stare off into space like a hotel heiress trying to calculate the tip on a $300 mani-pedi. This became clear to me as I watched my little monkeys literally roll around on the floor in a room so littered with toys, it looked like a Toys “R” Us exploded in my house. (And by the way, why do they put quotation marks around the R in Toys “R” Us? It’s bad enough that the R is backwards in their logo, forcing it to be typed incorrectly since no keyboard I’ve ever encountered has a backwards R on it. But why the quotes? Just wondering…).
As I watched them play human bumper cars and impale themselves on all the toys scattered about, I wondered why they weren’t instead… I don’t know… playing with the toys?!? What I deduced was that the volume of strewn toys was just as much clutter to the kids is it was to me. And sifting through that clutter would be like trying to listen to music through static – if you work really hard at it, you might be able to make something out, but it’s hardly worth the trouble and not at all enjoyable.
So I decided to clear-up the static. Rather than giving in to my prior impulses to buy them more toys that I thought they’d want to play with, I instead cut the toy stash in half. After filling more bags and boxes than I care to admit with stuff to donate to Goodwill, I then took the remaining half and split it again – leaving half out to be played with and putting the other half away so I’d have “new” toys to rotate in.
The result… the kids played with their toys again! And I could see our carpet again! And we all stopped impaling ourselves on all the junk we’d been stepping on and rolling around in. And the clouds parted and St. Steve (I’m not religious, so I generally seek guidance from Steve) said to me, “Good job dude! What took you so long?”
So, for those of you who play with your kids’ toys more than they do and long for the days when you could get from point A to point B in your house without walking through a minefield of plastic, wheeled and stuffed things, it’s time to clear-up the static. Keep the half you think the kids will like, donate the half they won’t and enjoy the sweet sight of kids playing quietly on the floor you almost forgot you had.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: DAVID PAULL is the Vice President of a small high-tech company and is learning the way of parenthood by trying his best to raise his 5 year-old son and 20 month-old daughter. Along with his wife, they navigate two full-time jobs and enjoy a hectic and fun-filled life in Portland, Oregon. David can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
David Paull is a father of two great kids – Jarod born in 2002 and Samantha born in 2005 – and also runs a small technology firm in Portland, Oregon. When not working or writing, David and his wife enjoy having fun with their kids and exploring new ways to keep their family happy, healthy, and sane. “Fresh Brood” appears regularly on in THE FATHER LIFE and tells stories of the trials and tribulations of raising a brood of one’s own.