In the box....out of the box

Here's the deal.  I think kids have too many toys.  There, I said it.

I've felt that since our kids were small.  Too much stuff and nothing to do with any of it!  Kids really do like a big empty box, and a bunch of wooden spoons and Tupperware (dating myself now) from the bottom kitchen drawer.  Metal pans are too noisy. 

We had a small house.  It was duplex on a cul-de-sac.  Per usual, the kids kind of dropped stuff and we stepped on it or over it.  Something needed to be be done.  I looked around.  All I saw was me.  Nobody else seemed to care.  Alrighty.  I was elected by one vote.  Mine.

I decided to not squawk about the toys anymore.   Instead, I gave two warnings to the kids to put the items back where they belong.  And then I went to work.  If they ignored it, no problem.  When they weren't looking I picked them up.  And I tossed them into a box, in the laundry room.  They surely weren't going in there!  And if I recall, I tossed some of Carl's toys in there too.  Like tools, or clothes.  The box was shallow, and was like a medium moving box.  Everybody could easily open the laundry room door and actually look down on the box from the kitchen stairs.  Nice....

Mom, have you seen my truck (or doll or puzzle or marker)?  Why, yes I have.  Where is it?  It's in a box.  Where?  In the laundry room.  (Hhmm, that seemed a bit scary to them.)  Go take a look.  Well, okay.   Oh here it is!  No, no, no!  You can't take that out of the box because it's mine.  No, it's not.  Yes, it is.  

Welcome, my children, to the Retrieve Box.  What's that?  You drop your toys, I give you two warnings, and I get the item and it goes in the box.  The what?  The Retrieve Box.  

And here's how you get one toy out.  You need to do something very special.  But you can't tell me or your dad about it.  Not a word.  We have to notice it, on our own.  And if you say something, the toy will not get out until you do something special without telling us.  We don't know what you'll do.  But we have to take notice.  Then you can retrieve any one toy.  

And if you don't retrieve the toys for 12 weeks, then as a family we'll all take those toys to some kids who will appreciate them.   How's that sound?  Not too good.  Well, that's the way it is.

Several things took place.  One, if they liked the toy, they were more likely to put it away within the two warnings.  Two, if they decided the toy wasn't worthy of the hassle, it would stay in the box and off it would go to another kid, or it would be dumped.  Three, guess how many nice things were done around the house?  Lots.  Four, if I was busy, I might not notice what they had done and they had to work even harder to make me notice something nice.  Five, things got tidier with no hollering.  Six, they knew what 'retrieve' meant.  Seven, Carl had to work at it too.

I only recall taking a few toys that were clean, usable, in good shape and fun, to church or a pre-school.  Mostly items were tossed.

That's my version of thinking 'out of the box.'  It's 30+ years old!  It worked.  I expect it still will.

Live richly,  marilyn


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