Posted by: Patti Dickinson | 10/04/2017

The kids don’t want our stuff………WHAT?????

autumn background with leaves and pumpkins, thanksgiving and halloween cardA year ago we downsized.  Significantly.  From a big house where we raised eight kids, to a house that would be just right for the two of us.  Less to heat and air-condition, less yard to mow, lower property taxes and just less upkeep.  Implicit in that plan, was that we were going to cull through our stuff and either toss, donate, give to one of the kids, or keep.

Tossing was easy.  That included a broken stapler, a cracked plastic bin, and a broom so old it had pinking-shear-like bristles, stray keys that we’d held onto for decades that we didn’t have the faintest idea what they could unlock. Manuals for appliances that we no longer owned and a hand-held can opener that refused to cooperate.

Donating wasn’t so easy. That was anything that didn’t fit or was badly frayed or furniture that we didn’t have space for.  That was the beginning of the trouble.  The discomfort.  The anxiety in the pit of the stomach.  Case in point:  We have placemats that are a pale shade of blue — pale because they’re so old, but now a very faded shade of Williamsburg blue.  Vintage.  We have twelve of them, and they’re reversible – checks on one side, stripes on the other.  I put them in the donate pile.  My husband walks by the stuff that’s heading out the door and he stops dead in his tracks and says, in complete disbelief,  “You giving these away?????”  I said, in a measured, admittedly clipped tone,  “Yup, every time I use these I have to tuck the wayward threads in…they’re just shot.”  The reply, “Oh…..well….. they just remind me of all our family dinners.” Out of the donate pile, back into the drawer.

We are getting nowhere in a great big hurry.

Giving stuff to the kids was ridiculous.  Seems this generation of Dickinson kids doesn’t like much of what I have to offer.  I have talked to other parents with kids my kids’ age and they say much the same thing.  When I was in one of my don’t-get-in-my-way-I’m-all-about-getting-rid-of moods, I had my cell phone in easy reach.  I’d call a kid, say “I have this bench, it’s about  4 feet long, it’s the greenish-blue one from the bedroom that I had plants on…” and I could almost feel them wracking their collective frontal lobes coming up with a nice way to say, “No thanks.”

But I didn’t give up easily.  This was going to be no easy surrender on my part.  I would make suggestions about where in their house it would look wonderful.  Or how when they moved to a bigger house, it would be a nice start or how it would only increase in value.  Or list 341 uses for said item.  Nope. They were nothing if not steadfast. I should mention that ultimately the kids in their collective understanding of mom guilt-tripping them into taking stuff they didn’t want, would answer the phone with, “No.”  Not “Hello”, Not “Hi, mom.”  “NO.” One of the downsides of caller id. In fact, I suspect that there was some collusion involved….as in a group text, “Hey, just an fyi.  Mom is on one of her cleaning frenzies and she’s got us all on speed dial.  Consider yourself warned.”

I remember when we were starting out as a newly-married couple.  Wood’s mom had a sofa/loveseat that she wanted us to have. They were very faded nubby, itchy, and worn out.   The kicker?  They didn’t have arms.  Mid-century modern in all its ugliness.  To go with it?  A coffee table that had a laminate top that was peeling loose from whatever it was glued to.  The table was shaped like an amoeba.  Kind of a free-flowing kind of look.  All our friends thought this living room was a riot.  We also inherited Wood’s grandmother’s dining room set.  I think it was walnut.  It was large enough to do some decent over-the-road hauling.  The legs were twice the size of Hulk Hogan’s.  The sideboard was heavy enough to bury a man well over six feet six inches tall.  Frankly, when all this furniture was put into the room I wondered if the subfloor and joists were strong enough to handle this kind of weight. Awful, awful stuff.

But our tastes changed.  I thought eventually I was going to have a brand spanking new Ethan Allen dining room. Glaringly smooth and shiny.  But time passed, the ugly stuff held up and kids came along and we found an old farmhouse table in Greenwood, a small town outside Kansas City.  It has mismatched chairs and is weathered just the right amount.  This is stuff that Sotheby’s would look at and get rushed by ambulance to the ICU. This is distressed.  Beat up enough that the kids could do homework at this table, play cards, have family meetings, smush playdough into, or spill anything and it would be just fine.

It was where we celebrated birthdays, First Communions, election to the Student Council, great ACT scores, carved pumpkins, dipped candles for Advent, and conversely, it was where family meetings got heated, where we reminisced the first Thanksgiving after my dad died, going-away dinners before we launched another kid to a University, how to subtract fractions, struggled through a World Geography class, and solved boyfriend and girlfriend problems.

It was where they learned not to chew with food in their mouth, to not interrupt and not burp and never ever double dip. It was where life happened.  It was a place for matters of the heart.  It was where kids came to unburden the sadness and celebrate the victories.  Lives were changed at this table.  Lessons were learned.  Tears were dried.  It was where the kids learned that they had a voice worth listening to.

It was where two double-stuff Oreos could be the salve to make things better.

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