Thursday, October 27, 2011

When our things own us

  • Earlier this summer, I got to enjoy that all-American past-time: waiting at home for half-a-day for the repair guy to come look at our dishwasher.  
  • I have a friend who just bought a new car.  She used to park her old beater-car on the street in front of her house, but now she's going out of her way to find new places to park the car because she's worried that this new one will be attractive to thieves.
  • I know a guy who used to keep huge piles of newspaper all over his home.  He didn't like how messy the stacks of papers looked, but he couldn't throw them away because he'd paid for them but he hadn't read them yet.
I've become increasingly sensitive over the years to the way it's easy for us to become a slave to our possessions, to realize that our things can own us just as much as we own them.  I've been thinking about the whole possession thing a lot as we transition new highly active boys into our household.

A hole that my very strong
boys made "by accident".
There are so many ways in which I want to live in a home that has a certain "nice" look.  I've found myself aching for a new, not-scratched-up kitchen floor.  Instead, I'm patching holes from where the boys 'accidentally' wrenched something off the wall.

As our plates and forks and knives slowly break or disappear from normal wear and tear, I've fantasized about starting over with a new, matching dining set -- something tasteful, sturdy, yet elegant.  Then my husband and I discovered that the reason we seem to be missing soup spoons is because the boys had been sneaking peanut butter jars into their room at night, eating the whole jar with a spoon, and then tossing the evidence (both jar and spoon) in the trash.  Maybe tasteful and elegant have to wait a few years.

To do item this week:
patch the wall.
The kids aren't being malicious; they just love wrestling and eating.  We're working hard on teaching them to respect property, but we know that this is a learning process, especially for kids who have spent the first decade of their lives in a different home than ours.  Still, as we teach our children to respect property, we have to balance the needs of our children with the needs of the house -- the needs of people with the needs of things.

Someday I'm going to redo the kitchen, and it'll be gorgeous.  I really, really do want to live in a beautiful space.  But I know that if I have a gorgeous kitchen, I'd go ballistic/depressed/resentful if it got messed up or damaged.  So for now, I'll put my energy and love into the creative, energetic, stronger-than-they-realize children around me.  And I'll keep trying to live in a place that I own, a place that doesn't quite yet own me.

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