Skirting the Issue - The toy martyr is faced with a dilemma

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The Spring cleaning season is well and truly upon us and it seems I am faced with a dilemma. In many ways it is a great dilemma to have...

Now I am not trying to act the martyr, I’m sure there is an endless supply of parents and children who crave such a dilemma, which, simply put, is that my child has FAR too many toys.

I’ve even broached the subject with my little princess, managing to convince her, probably on more than one occasion, that one day soon Daddy was going to “clean up her old baby toys.”

To be fair the ‘wee angel’ is more than happy to donate some to charity. However it is a full year since she donated a teddy to a toy appeal for Africa and she is still prone to proudly boasting: ‘I gave my teddy bear to the poor babies in Africa didn’t I Daddy!?’

But then she is only just turned five, so...bless.

In an attempt to keep some floor space visible, I’ve tidied the ‘toy store’ to within an inch of its life. I’ve boxed the Barbies away from the make-up sets, the handbags and toy mobile phones separate to the board games, which have nearly all survived intact, the jigsaws and her books are at opposite ends of the shelves.

And just how my five year-old daughter came to own two toy guns and a football I’ll never know... I NEVER take her to McDonald’s but I have a ‘whole heap’ of ‘Happy Meal’ toys.

On the floor there is her pink quad bike, two tricycles, (she used both yesterday), a scooter, two toy prams, a baby grand piano, a mini-trampoline, two microphones, a shopping cart and a whole street of seemingly life size (to a five year-old) doll’s houses.

It is almost obscene, but then she loves it all, smiles and I get over myself and the piles of clothes she insists on throwing everywhere.

My little girl has more costume changes than a Madonna World tour and if that’s the last time my material girl is ever compared to that Maiden of Filth I’ll be a happy Daddy.

You see the real problem, actually, is the parents, mine to be specific. They have, to her delight my baby swamped, as with every visit there is a new Barbie, a new book, a new something. Which as I said is a fantastic dilemma, by the way, have I mentioned how good at baby-sitting they are?

There is so much ‘stuff’ I can either move house, no thanks, or make room in said toy store. I have to make room as Granda is fed up looking at the GIGANTIC 3’ x 2 x 2.5’ dolls house he built as a Christmas present, hand made from the chimney down to the carpeted floors and family photographs hung on the walls. It’s stunningly beautiful but MASSIVE.

“It has to go” he tells me. “It’s not fair on the wain.”

I agree I just don’t know where it can ‘go.’ Floor space in my baby’s room is rarer than a Rangers player who gets his wages on time. (Claire I told you I’d get a football joke in).

I’ve done everything, tidied, sorted, stacked, arranged and rearranged only to have it all come tumbling down come play time. I say I’ve done everything, the one thing I haven’t done is, well, throw out. Even though I lose every single race with her, I’m still holding onto her baby walker. There is a box of shoes I keep threatening to send to somewhere like Gaza but by the time I get around to parting with baby’s little tiny baby shoes, I’m sure Captain Planet or some such, will have sorted out the whole Middle East ‘thing.’

Of course all this Spring cleaning has to be done after a hard day at the office and before an 8.30pm bedtime. It takes me twenty minutes alone to clear up Angel’s Toy Story ‘figurines.’ Mostly as I can’t help recreating movie scenes with Woody and Buzz. I need to do something but most of the toys are simply not good enough for the charity shops and I don’t feel right binning them.

I also feel guilty dumping them behind the little one’s back. It would be a horrible torture on any five year-old to make them choose their favourite toys. Especially as I’ve tried it and it would seem, they are ALL her favourite. I can’t turn her into a ‘toy martyr’ as my child will need little encouragement in the martyr stakes.

I may take the following approach. Bag and box everything, well maybe two thirds, store them and see if she can indeed live without half a post office set etc. I’m sure she’ll adapt, eventually, but what if I’d miss smiling as I catch her dressing a teddy bear with her little first pair of slip-ons? I know I should just get on with it. We didn’t have anything like that amount of moulded coloured plastic to play with and we turned out, alright-ish! My real issue is:- Be they destined for Oxfam, Vincent de Paul or the big land fill in the sky, it just feels so evil, stealing your baby’s playmates?

Like I said, it IS the parents’ fault. Specifically this parent I suppose.

(Claire Allan is away this week)