Often when the kids arrive at our home, they bring along clothes, jackets, toys, movies, etc. This time was no exception: Dove even brought a gift bag, presumably from her pre-school, with candy, a teddy bear, and other odds and ends.
So…what is my point? It strikes me as enormously ironic, since Gary and I had to stop allowing toys, clothing, shoes, or any other items from going to the children’s other home a long time ago. Several deliberately ruined pairs of shoes, disposed-of favorite toys, and disappearing mp3 players were enough.
If it were the kids inadvertently losing the items, we could partially chalk it up to them being young and careless. Instead, I very much remember the tears when Sunflower’s favorite, large stuffed doll turned up missing after she took it with her back to her other home. We found out later that the doll apparently was lost, all right…at the local Goodwill store, without Sunflower’s consent.
It doesn’t seem fair to the kids to keep all their toys and clothes at our house, but other individuals in their lives refuse to live up to the word “adult”, so we have done what we have to do to protect the kids’ belongings. We didn’t make a big show of it or resort to bad-mouthing, since they already hear more than enough of that from others. The kids seemed to understand, without us saying a word, that their things are not safe once they leave our house anyway.
So it is with ironic amusement that I watch the toys, clothes, and other belongings parade into our home, because I know these items are sent along with the kids with the firm knowledge that Gary and I will return all of the kids’ things intact, despite the fact that this minimal courtesy has never been extended to us. It is, in essence, a tangible gesture recognizing that we won’t sink to the same level that we have witnessed over and over.
It must be nice to know that the kids’ belongings will be respected, taken care of, and returned, as they should be by any good parent. What would be even nicer, however, would be for everyone in the kids’ lives to respect them enough not to use them or their belongings as pawns or weapons.