Give it Away

Guess who is leaving our household?

That’s right:  it’s the Barbie Island Princess Head! She has never been a particular favorite of mine, and now J’s decided that she’s ready to move on.  She brought her to me saying, “Maybe we could give her to someone who needs some toys.  If they don’t mind that her hair is so messed up.”  That’s some progress for her, actually.  I assured her that I could tidy up the hair, which was one of my exciting household tasks today.  She’s looking lovely, don’t you think?  So lovely, in fact, that I decided to quickly pop her into a plastic bag before J had second thoughts.

My kids struggle to be charitable.  I was thinking about this the other day, when the girls went to their friend’s birthday party.  Virtuous family that they are, they requested donations for Bethesda House in lieu of presents.   M was enthusiastic, and she spent quite a bit of time pondering what items to bring (a selection of kids’ toothpastes and toothbrushes).  But although in theory both girls agree that asking for donations instead of gifts is a good idea, neither of them can bring themselves to actually go through with it for their own birthday parties.  And, really, I can’t bring myself to push it.   Even when an aunt suggested an animal from Heifer International as a possible Christmas gift, the girls lobbied hard for a decorative bowl instead.

We do have a tradition of purging to make room before Christmas.   That generally works quite well, although it’s not always a smooth process.  One year–I think it was year before last–I had a heck of a time.  We were traveling for the holidays, so I was behind schedule when I finally got a chance to bring the boxes of hand-me-down clothes and toys to be donated–I think it was at the Schenectady Inner City Ministry.  The timing was particularly poor because not only was I racing to drop off during the designated drop-off time, but I had both girls with me, which was a significant risk.  Even when they say that they’re ready to part with something, it’s safer to make the item disappear immediately, never to be seen again, so that there’s no change of heart.  In this case, I knew that I had a particularly enticing item.  We’d bought a Barbie swimming pool and a bikini-clad doll for one of M’s friends for her birthday.  Then her party was canceled due to illness, and then it was never rescheduled, and then I forgot all about it, and eventually I had a brand-new pool and doll with no receipt to return them.  To make matters worse, J saw these items  at some point during the months-long process, and oh, how she coveted the pool and doll.  I told her no because we already had a Barbie pool.  I mean, how many freakin’ Barbie pools could a single household possibly need?  J, however, was pining.  The Barbie pool that we had, she argued, was really M’s pool.  J didn’t have a pool of her own! I know:  heartbreaking, isn’t it?

So as I was hustling both of my children into the car with several boxes full of who-knows-what, I was careful to camouflage the Barbie and her pool by placing a huge bag on top of it.  Silly me.  I’d forgotten that M prides herself on being a heavy lifter.  At the airport, in fact, she regularly astounds passers-by with her ability to swing ginormous duffle bags off of the luggage carousel.  So I should have known that my tremendously efficient elder daughter would “help” me by choosing to pick up the one bag that I didn’t want her to carry, exposing Barbie and her pool.  We’re ferrying stuff from the back of the car into the donations place when J bursts into tears because she sees the Most Beautiful Doll Ever  leaving her world.  I’m already feeling quite harassed.  I’m sweating over these boxes, M is practically swallowed up by a huge trash bag full of clothes, and now J is crying as if her heart is broken.  But then, can you guess the reaction?  Because when you’re in the parking lot next to a major charitable hub, there are always people hanging around.    And three or four friendly old homeless guys see why she’s sad and are perfectly nice.  “No, sweetheart!  You don’t have to give away your dolly!” shouts one.  “You take that back, princess!”  another encourages.  “You take it right back! Oh, man.  None of these thoughtful men have seen the tremendous supply of beautiful dolls and other fabulous toys in our perfectly comfortable playroom.  But J continues to sob and everyone is on her side.  I caved.  I just didn’t see a way out.

To make matters worse, after we all got home, the acquisition of one pool made the girls decide that they needed to get the other pool from where it had been lying, neglected, for months in a pile of leaves in our screened porch.  They wanted to create an entire Barbie resort in my kitchen.   So an hour later I am upstairs packing and I come downstairs to a trail of leaves from the door to the kitchen and a flood in the kitchen.  What a freakin’ disaster.

So, come to think of it, I guess giving away the island princess really is progress.

I’m already getting alerts about spring break camps and even summer camps, so information on those is coming soon.

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