Wednesday, 4 August 2010

And apologies about the landfill

It is true what people say. One of the biggest problems of home education is the way you compulsively hoard junk.

Junk. Lots of junk. Junk like the five tennis balls you cut in half and turned upside down to make craters for the Playmobil simulation of the 1969 moon landing. Junk like 56 splintered chopsticks now fashioned into Native American journey sticks and rattling on the back of the door, minus their yellow feathers. Junk like the dented tin cans with holes punctured into them, which once you were pleased to call Persian lanterns, but now the glitter and plastic jewels have dropped off, actually reveal themselves for what they are. Dented tin cans with holes bashed in them hanging from the kitchen ceiling.

If that wasn't enough, there's the stash of toilet roll tubes you're keeping under the sink and you've forgotten why. But keep them, because they might come in handy. Along with the industrial plastic sheeting snatched from the back lane, the 2,488 pieces of wood in various sizes, and the gigantic bat you made out of tissue paper, willow withy and light up LEDs.

Save it all. You never know. Tinkertop might suddenly declare she is interested in Physics. Then you will somehow have a perfect excuse to rebuild the 1969 moon landing craft, and use the tennis balls, toilet rolls and the tin cans. So long as the spacecraft is piloted by a gigantic bat with glowing eyes made from busted LEDs.

Of course there is an antidote to all of this.

You could hire a totally impartial whirlwind* for the day, like I did.

The whirlwind has no sense of your emotional attachment to things, like that egg carton. The egg carton that became a boat to carry away the newly married unicorns to the clouds where they were to eat pink meringue and write billet doux, hopefully to each other. The egg carton that kept all the happy children absorbed for three days until the divorce. The egg carton that is now stained with soil and smells a bit iffy, maybe like cat pee, but is still a heart's treasure and a memory of happy days.

But see that piece of thick orange foam? The whirlwind has no idea about your hopes. That you have saved that orange foam in the hope that one day you will create from it a giraffe. The giraffe called Gerald; the one that delighted the children so much five years ago when he declared on page two that he could not dance. Then he spent the next 12 pages cavorting around. The orange foam made perfect sense. You could shape that into a puppet Gerald. Only you never got round to it. But you just haven't given up hope.

The whirlwind knows nothing of this fond brain-touched madness. Not of the objects that hold expectations, contests, desires, fears, hopes, rewards, loves, betrayals, joys. No. She just dumps it all in the bin. Powered by this unconcerned attitude to the family treasure, she simply starts at one end of the room and sweeps through it, emerging at the end with 14 bin bags. She completes in ten minutes what you have failed to do in ten years.

That was a bit of a shock, I confess.

But now I look at my floor. I can see floor! And shelves! And wall! It is like a revelation! We actually live in a house and not in a burrow down the local tip!

Then I pause, and consider that the egg carton is not exactly the Elgin Marbles, and that I do have 250 photographs of its production from concept to completion. And now I come to recollect the incident, it ended in accusing tears, resentful words, and the confiscation of all the unicorns, faithful and bigamous.

And now I think of all the things coming my way over the next ten years. Things to fill up my life and my heart and my house. Things to cherish. Things like the decorated cardboard box that will hold the photos that one day might be scrapbooked; the pink button collection that will be destined to be made into jewellery along with the satin ribbon, but we never got round to it; and the sequined size 8 Topshop skirts that must be saved. You never know. One day we might mend that broken zip.

*The whirlwind is called Michelle. I recommend her. She is teaching me great principles of parenting. She is deeply impressive. She is also scarily fast if you set her on the clearyuppy. Keep the kids moving. If they stand still for ten seconds, check the skip.


Ruth said...

I'm starting to understand where Squirrel gets her squirrelling tendencies from...

MadameSmokinGun said...

We have been putting DVDs into DVD display folders - my idea in fact. Space saving and pleasing. But...... MGPants finished the job. And didn't check if there was a little booklet in the Ronnie Lane DVD, and threw away the 5 or 6 covers with nice pictures that I'd left on the coffee table to keep in my scrapbook and when I had the audacity to ask him if he'd checked for little booklets and nice pictures .....OHHH!!!

'I THREW THEM AWAY!' said in such a way that I KNEW he'd not just thrown them away but SMIRKED as he even took the bin bag out AT NIGHT and put it UNDERNEATH a mucky one in the dustbin. How he crowed.

This is not my imagination. I checked. There is a bin bag that feels full of DVD covers underneath a mucky one. I KNOW there is a picture of Ronnie Lane in there!!!!!

sharon said...

And think what fun you will have collecting all the new things in HK and again when you return to the UK.

Coding Mamma (Tasha) said...

Oh, wow. I need a Michelle. Does she travel? I have seriously been considering sticking an ad in the local post office for someone to come and organise us, because I am really not up to the job.

And I save margarine tubs and ice cream tubs. And a fair bit of junk, too. I'd save loo rolls, too, except my sister persuaded me that it was hideously unhygienic.

Michelle said...

Does she travel? I keep the UK fuel industry in business!

Kelly said...

Having to move reasonably frequently I save virtually nothing anymore. But I remember when I did. The Sidetracked Home Executives books saved me. And yet people still tell me I have more stuff than anybody else they know (even in the fridge). Six musicians, playing seven or eight different instruments (all but two of the BIG), who also do art and sport and own thousands of books, cds and dvds...I would love to go minimalist but somehow I don't think it's ever going to happen (says she who has spent the last two weeks living with two children and a husband in three rooms).