Many humans have a built in need to collect things that are interesting or seem important because they remind us of important events. A simple form is a collection of photographs. In the past many people had, or still have, boxes and album full of snapshots of their lives. Nowadays there are even greater collections but they take up little room because they are digital. If I printed all the photographs on my computer I’m certain they would fill a small room.
A large chunk of my loft is filled with much smaller collections. Sadly, being physical they take up a much larger space. These are Smalls’ collections: either a Small collected them or they are collections relating to the things Smalls have achieved.
However, the most grisly collection is held in a small ornate box hidden at the back of a drawer. If you happened to be rummaging in my drawers and discovered it you would be filled with revulsion. The first grisly thing in the box is the clip from Small 1’s umbilical cord that stopped the blood leaking out after it was cut. It still has some air dried, desiccated cord attached. Next comes a curl from his first haircut, tied with a piece of ribbon (Small never wore ribbons). Then there is a gruesome collection of little teeth, some with dried blood still staining then. Why, oh why, oh why? When Small is big he will certainly not appreciate them.
At least the body parts mean something and the events can be remembered. Later there will be a collection of paper item: birthday cards, first writing (meaningless squiggles), colouring, drawing, star charts for being good, first work at pre-school, well done stickers from the dentist, second writing, more star charts, another thick wedge of colouring (Small can get through a colouring book in minutes – it’s easy when you just scribble a knot of blue crayon on each page), progress books from preschool, writing with shapes that could vaguely be actual letters, colouring using more than one colour…
Then there is a cot, a crib a moses basket, linen and blankets, first shoes, first wellies, clothes, second shoes, second wellies, rattles, rings, play mats, a travel cot, activity centres, hobby horses, Ben 10 figures, Mike the Knight figures, bags of Puffles and other soft toys, and box after box after box of Thomas the Tank Engine trains and tracks.
It is all up there, in the loft. There is probably more than what is listed: I haven’t conducted a full inventory, it’s too damned scary to go up the ladder anymore.
My wife is working on getting rid of things but it is slow progress. As soon as one batch is dispatched from the house another, from slightly bigger Smalls, takes its place.
The point is, it is useless to keep this stuff. When Small is big he will not appreciate it and it will become his problem. When my parents-in-laws moved home they sent my wife a very large trunk filled with memorabilia from her childhood. Whilst it raised a few happy memories when it was first opened most of the items in it had lost any meaning, if they had ever had any, to my wife. They were more things that her mum and dad had memories of. So, the large trunk now sits in our loft because we would feel guilty if we got rid of it. [Yes, we have a very big loft.]
Not so much a parenting guide full of advice, more the reality of parenting kids and being a house husband and father, written by a stay at home dad to three children.
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