So today I gave my children’s red wagon away to our lovely neighbors, who consist of four kids ranging in age from 0 to 6 years. Lest you think I’m being cruel, know this: that wagon sat on our front porch gathering dust for 18 months, with nary a glance, except for its default use as a receptacle for found sticks, twigs and dried palm fronds. (Did you know that last year the official “toy of the year” was a stick? No foolin’.)
Anyway, as soon as I mentioned the fact of this giveaway to my kids, they immediately began playing with it. And when our friends came over to pick it up, awkwardness ensued. Suddenly this thing which had no apparent value to my kids became highly valuable. It’s the whole “other people’s toys” thing. We've all seen that before.
All the ambulatory children took turns running and pushing each other in it. Hilarity ensued. Then it was time for the wagon to go home with our friends. My son, who is 6, was really conflicted about it. He didn’t want to make a scene, but he didn’t want to give up the wagon. Initially my daughter had been shrieking about not wanting to give away the wagon, but the drama of the moment was the hairband she’d borrowed from one of our friends and now had to return. She could give a flying fig about the wagon. The loss of the hairband was devastating. She fled in tears.
And here’s the thing: because my son was being so reasonable about it, it gave me pause. He was mature, he didn’t fuss, but he wanted the wagon.
Was I wrong to give it away? I don’t think so. But of course, the mamaguilt gushed forth to take over my internal monologue: they LOVED playing with it, wouldn’t it have been nice to take it with us on our move and have something familiar to play with NEW friends with? It’s bad enough you’re moving them across the country, but did you have to give away the wagon, too?
And on and on.
Like I said: not used once in 18 months. (Hey, that rhymes. Maybe that can be my new calming mantra. Not that I’ve ever successfully used one. “Hoochie Mama” and “Serenity Now” from Seinfeld are the closest I’ve ever gotten.)
Oh, and when things are getting me down, I like to say, “It’s all a rich tapestry.” Which is a Simpsons quote (the shrink, played by Anne Bancroft, said to Marge, about her fear of flying)
Anyway, I’m wallowing in the guilt. But it will pass. Ultimately the kids don’t really give a shit about the wagon.
Ultimately we're all just feeling sad that we’re moving. Sometimes parting is sweet sorrow after all.
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