My Systems Actually Work

May 2nd, 2023

“That’s so interesting, Your system actually worked.”

— My daughter in a rare moment of admitting that I was right

We stayed in yesterday to have a nice, relaxing, rainy Sunday, which essentially means I did not sit down once, so pressured did I feel to do all the things that have been lingering on my To Do  List. I harvested the rhubarb growing in our yard and, with my mom’s pastry talents on my side, made three rose rhubarb galettes. I cooked up the beef brisket I’ve had in my freezer for months with this NY Times recipe. I was grateful for the help of my dear friend Aldo to finally hang the charcoal drawing he had given me when my daughters were born. I folded laundry, cleaned the kitchen, and I reorganized the craft area in my daughters’ room.

Twas the latter activity that caused the most strife. With high hopes of enlisting the girls, I embarked upon this ambitious project fairly early in the day, pulling everything off the shelves and going through each box, bag, and whatnot to sort out the flotsam from the jetsam. The absolute garbage — brown and gray crayon nibs, filthy broken shards of toys, exhausted coloring books, dried-up magic markers — I threw in a spare box, which quickly filled up.

My daughters have a deep aversion to throwing anything away, and I often have to be sneaky about it. But this was a group effort, and I could not hide the quickly growing garbage pile, which is why, as soon as she noticed some random brightly colored plastic piece of detritus from a long-ago birthday gift bag, deep in a box full of what my husband accurately referred to as “basically just gravel,” she began shrieking at me.

“You can’t throw my stuff awaaaaaaaay!”

I am guessing that most parents have those certain triggers. My two things are:

  • Being touched on the face when I’m tired

  • When anyone in my family goes through the garbage to check my work

When these things happen, I instantly stop being a kind, patient parent and turn into a primal asshole who cannot tolerate another moment of this ridiculousness. STOP GOING THROUGH THE TRASH, I shout. THAT STUFF IS GETTING THROWN OUT I yell. DON’T EVEN LOOK AT THAT TRASH, I threaten. 

Trapped in the craft closet, I insist that Jon take the trash out immediately before they can dive in like feral little raccoons to reclaim their garbage. Once it’s out of sight, I ignore the woeful, deploring wails. “Don’t be ridiculous,” I assure them, in a psychopathic voice, “that stuff is garbage. It’s dead to us now.”

Maybe not my best parenting, but as a good friend reassured me, I am teaching them a valuable lesson about knowing that we can throw away our detritus and still thrive.

Anyway, aside from the trauma, the virgo in me was very pleased with the end result of this project. 

Screenshot 2023-05-02 at 7.57.54 AM

Phoebe got over the outrage pretty quickly and even pitched in to help sort her piles of coloring and activity books. She was very dubious about some “missing” items, like “that special thing from Finley’s birthday” over a year ago — probably a rock or tiny bead that I could very easily have mistaken for garbage because I clearly lack their imagination. But then she found it in the box I had labeled “small objects useful for building with,” which is when she, surprised and delighted, remarked…

“That’s so interesting, Your system actually worked.” 


Share Button

Leave a Reply