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Anita Paradis: Too Many Toys

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Soon after Christmas, you'll find yourself saying, as you sustain yet another Lego injury, "Those kids have too many darn toys!" And you'll start plotting against them. I know. I've been there.

Some parenting magazines I've read suggest rotating the toys. That is, take some out of circulation for a while, then reintroduce them while taking others out of circulation. That way your children will never be bored and always have "new" toys. Or so the theory goes.

I say, why do they need so many toys? Get rid of some. Go ahead! I'll support you in that. I'll even tell you how to do it!

My kids are the first grandchildren on both sides of the family. And both sides of the family live in the same community. Yep. Two sets of grandparents right handy. And that's a good thing! And all the aunts and uncles too. Wonderful! Are my kids spoiled? You bet.

We have toys. Lots of toys. Lots and lots and lots of toys. Toys that build, and toys that tear down. Toys to dress up, and toys that light up. Toys kids can carry, and toys that carry kids. Toys to put together, and toys that fall apart. Toys that rock, toys that roll, and toys that make noise. Even some of our toys have toys!

That's way too many toys.

At first I appealed to the kids' compassion. "Let's give them to some poor children," I'd say, "Children who aren't as fortunate as you." And they have kind hearts so they'd be tempted. They'd start thinking of those poor toy-less children and suggest some things they'd be willing to part with. But half-way through the exercise, they'd get teary and sentimental and exclaim, in their lispy little toddler voices, "Not that! That's fecial to me!" And a moment later they'd declare everything "fecial" and the mission would be aborted.

So I got sneaky.

I'd keep an eye out for toys that weren't being played with. Lonely neglected dolls. Discarded blocks. Unread books. Puppets passed over in favor of the latest stuffed animal. And I'd surreptitiously remove them from the playroom and hide them in the laundry room. If the children noticed a toy missing, I could produce it. But if they didn't notice it missing after a month, out it went.

They hardly ever noticed anything missing. Our playroom is still well-stocked and the kids are none the wiser.

What did I do with all those toys? Depending on their condition, I donated some to different charities, sent some to the thrift shop, and gave some to a local daycare centre. All those "fecial" toys now have homes where they won't be overlooked and cast aside. I like to think they are happy now, as toys should be.

Christmas is just around the corner and our generous family is still close by so I'll be on the Too Many Toys Merry-Go-Round again soon. See you there?

Anita Paradis is a mother to 4 year old twin girls and a 17 onth old little girl, and is editor of