In a mega-frenzy of cleaning last week, I attempted to straighten up the “Stuffed Animal Corner” in the baby’s room.
Yes, my in-laws were coming for the weekend.
No, they didn’t say anything about the Stuffed Animal Corner.
Yes, the pyramid of animals in the corner has survived intact for almost six days.
Yes, this is quite amazing!
Which leads me to the following conclusion: maybe I don’t need to put a toy hammock on our Christmas list. Instead, maybe I need to start sneaking the plush lions and tigers and teddy bears out of the house, one by one, until we have a more manageable number of stuffed animals. Say, 20.
In the past, we have tried to reduce our stuffing. But either through nostalgia tempered with guilt (Aawwwwwww, this was her first bison…) or poor tactics (toddler witnessing the event, Yikes!) I haven’t been able to pull it off just yet.
In fact, when I was dusting off the wagon for trick-or-treating last night, I found a bag in the garage I had completely forgotten. It contained about a half dozen random stuffed animals we had previously removed from the playroom and girls’ rooms. I smirked to myself as I remembered stealthily retrieving “just a few” of the animals from the nearly full bag, until only the ones that had no emotional significance to either me or my children remained.
Yes, my name is Mama, and when it comes to repeated failed efforts to de-clutter our stuffed animals, I am the problem.
But I HAVE been able to slow the influx of our plushy doll and animal kingdom.
When well-intentioned friends and family travel to exotic locales, and consequently would like to bring us knick-knacks and soft toys from these incredible destinations, I request children’s books instead.
(Sidebar: we appreciate any time anyone thinks of us when you are away from home. But books are better than “dust-collectors” (as my aunt would say) or stuffed toys, of which we have too many!)
In fact, books are the perfect souvenir. The child receives a book they would not otherwise be exposed to — for example, Don’t Call Me Pig! A Javelina Story (Arizona), or Maddy: the Alaskan Moose (Alaska) or Deep in the Swamp (Louisiana).
A book (or two, or three) is the perfect size to fit in your suitcase. A book brings joy and with it, a love of learning new information about an otherwise unknown locale, to its recipient. (Seriously, javelinas? I learned so much.) And a book belongs on a bookshelf — so mama knows precisely where to put it.
If you’re looking for gift ideas for little ones (my apologies, but it is almost that season) bring them a book from a region to which you’ve traveled (or lived, if you’re traveling to bring the gift).
And now, if you’ll excuse me … I must go rearrange my kids’ plush toys … in alphabetical order.
PS — this post is incomplete without the teeny-tiniest of disclaimers. A certain retailer has nailed the market by selling a stuffed animal to ACCOMPANY the book, and donating the money to kids’ education. In my opinion, this is nothing short of awesome, and I completely support it. Personally, I will never get rid of our Lorax, our Cat (whom we gave a Cupcake), etc. (the stuffed animals, or the books).
PPS — For the record, we already have the On the Night You Were Born Tillman book (two copies, actually — one upstairs, one downstairs) but no polar bears. The book is outstanding. We don’t have any of her other books. Now if only said retailer also could provide a storage system for both!