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Humor@Home: A Lesson in Giving and Giving Away

The Story of the Long- Desired Skateboard

Ashley, age six-and-a-half, had been asking for a skateboard. The first time she asked, I said, “You have too much stuff. Tell me something you’re willing to get rid of, something big, and then we’ll talk about a skateboard.” Her eyes filled with tears. She opened her mouth to say something, then closed it again. I didn’t hear anything about a skateboard for weeks.

And then I did. She was riding her scooter, and she stopped in front of me and said she’d really like to just “try” a skateboard. 

“Give away your kitchen set,” I challenged. I felt like a jerk, but honestly, I was working against some big things here: 

1. My kids are hoarders, and I saw this as my only hope of ever getting rid of the kitchen set that took up three feet by four-and-a-half feet by 18 inches. Plus, I imagined filling up the kitchen set, when I got rid of it, with all of the dishes, pots, pans, and play food that came with it that was strewn about the house. More inches of space. 

2. Seriously, a kitchen set? This thing was built for toddlers. Sure, Ashley had played with it when she was one-and-a-half and two, maybe even three, years old. But, by now it had become more of a shelf to store her horses and various other junk collections, namely things she quietly—some might say covertly—brought home from walks and emptied directly out of her pockets onto the fake stove and countertop. Things like sticks and leaves and feathers and all sorts of other things that were decidedly “NOT trash, Mom!”

3. What about being generous? It seemed like I was always reading stories about kids who grew their hair for cancer patients or collected towels for animal shelters. My kids never wanted to part with one forgotten, broken, nameless toy. (Or stick or leaf or feather.) Not even if it meant they could help someone who needed it more than they did. And not even to pay it forward for all the hand-me-downs they had received. Couldn’t we just once get rid of one piece of junk in the name of helping someone else?

Ashley looked horrified at the mention of the kitchen set. “But Mom…” I raised my eyebrows, letting her know that I didn’t care if we kept it or bought the skateboard, but that I wouldn’t have both. 

Her shoulders slumped. I knew I was winning, but why did I feel like such a low-down scoundrel about it?

Several more weeks passed without word of a skateboard. Also, without a passing glance at the kitchen set. I decided to stop dusting it to see if it would get to the point that you could write your name in the layer of dust that would accumulate on the top of it from lack of use. (It did.)

Finally, the day came when, with a lump in her throat, she announced that she had decided to turn in her baby kitchen set for a big kid skateboard. She had already chosen the special friend she wanted to give it to, and within five minutes I had the exchange coordinated with the friend’s mom.

The day it disappeared I expected tears, but she just said, “The room looks different.” (Oh, just wait until I reorganize it, I thought.) I can’t wait to see what I can do with those extra twenty or so cubic feet.

At last, it was time to shop for a skateboard. Also knee pads.

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Tags: Food & Home, Parenting, Sports

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