Thursday, October 18, 2007


When I lived in Boston for a couple of years in grad school I learned about trashing. On garbage day people go out and canvas certain neighborhoods (say, Allston-Brighton in late May) searching for discarded treasure. I'm sure people do this everywhere, but Boston is the only place I've lived where it's been elevated to an activity in it's own right, complete with a verb. Nate and Rika's landlord was a trashing aficionado, and used their backyard as his personal treasure/junk pile. That part wasn't so cool, actually, tho Nate did manage to salvage useful things at a moment's notice once or twice, as I recall.

I don't know if it's just my kids or what, but Zion and Liel are almost magnetically drawn to trash. They think it's a toy, see. Or toys. Or whatever. Its as if they didn't have piles and drawers and shelves overflowing with carefully crafted toys, wonderful story books, and cheap plastic junk. When new trash comes into the house, they only have eyes for it. A certain amount of it is age related, I assume, since Zion no longer forages around in the paper recycling, even tho Liel spends at least 5 minutes every day at this very activity (and leaves the kitchen floor strewn with flattened cardboard boxes and junk mail). But there are plenty of items destined for the garbage or recycling that Robert and I have to sneak out in the dead of night (or what passes for the dead of night around here...say, 930pm). Just today, for instance, I asked Robert what we were planning to do with the 3 large cardboard boxes laying around our living and dining rooms. They've been there for 2 days now.

And that, perhaps, is the crux of it. Robert and I are weak when it comes to clutter, and weaker still when the clutter in question appears to bring some kind of joy to our children. When we lived in Brooklyn we actually kept certain waste items in Zion's toy basket, just because he seemed to enjoy them at least as well as his traditional toys. Only in the past few months have we attempted to harden our hearts and actually dispose of the random lids, empty boxes, and junk mail featuring cute animals.

Still, though, we can't beat ourselves up too much. Even in our new, clean(er) home the kids find a way. This afternoon I was reading them stories on my bed. Liel, displeased with Zion's choice of story ("no, no! I do not love that story!") had climbed down to select the book we'd read next. Unusually, she didn't return to the bed, demanding to sit on my lap where she could complain about the unloved story from her rightful perch. In fact, she was suprisingly silent. Thrilled, I continued to read to Zion in the blissful quiet. But as the minutes ticked on I became curious, then mildly concerned. I put the book down and looked around the room for Liel. She was sitting next to the trashcan surrounded by piles of empty taffy wrappers, carefully unwadding each one in search of overlooked delights.



Stacie said...

lol....I have often commented at Christmas time, leave the kids with wrapping paper and boxes and they will be thrill. :)

My mom use to TRASH. er go trashing. Drove me bonkers. I am sure one man's trash is anothers man's treasure, but NOT with me in the car. PLEASE.

Andrea said...

Round here we call that Yard Sales. Where people proudly display their trash for people to oogle over and fork over some cashola! We travelled yard sale to yard sale every weekend with my dad while growin up.

the main stitch upholstery said...

people leave their trash out on the curbs here (myself included) knowing that someone will drive by and need it. we have "undonated" a patio swing from the thrift store and redone it for our house. i am fond of useful junk. my kids think everything is useful and they bring me home lots of treasures they find walking. i have gotten hair ties, broken bong pipes( they were "really pretty" glass) broken parts of toys..... my heart is hard and i throw it all back away when they are not looking. owen digs though our trash when we are not looking. he untrashes all of his favorite clothes i have deemed unuseable. i have thrown the same shirts away more than once and have let him hang them on his wall.

robert said...

rebecca, that is awesome. broken bongs and shirts hung on the wall. you rock.