Tuesday, June 26, 2012

I miss you, stuff.

I've talked about this a little bit before, but Melissa and I (like most people I know of) went through a phase where money wasn't something we really paid too much attention. I was never willing to say, buy the brand name ice cream while the store brand was 30 cents cheaper...but you get the idea. When people asked if we wanted to go out to dinner, we did (pending the people asking) and with little thought for stupid things like...we ate out yesterday or...we're eating out tomorrow or...I think we've eaten out every day this week. Our birthday/anniversary/Christmas/Valentine gifts to each other were always spendy and that special kind of selfish that you deserve on a holiday. One of our most crowning achievements is our DVD collection. If you are not aware, DVDs come out on Tuesdays. So our ritual on Tuesdays was to go to work, come home and change, head to Best Buy and purchase 1-3 DVDs, have dinner somewhere in the area, go home and watch new movies. Every Tuesday. It got pretty epic...I'll throw a picture up here.

Now, this is not a sob story about how I wish we had more money so we could do more things and buy more of those "want not need" items. Kids or no kids, I think we'd all agree that we'd love more money around. This is far more simple than even wanting to go buy the occasional DVD.


Another great bit of information that you really don't read about in those books that get you ready for parenting is how quickly your children are willing to destroy everything you own. It's probably not malicious, but as the parent or more importantly as the person who spent all the money on all that stuff, you really have to start making some tough choices.

Now obviously I've brought this concern up with other parents and they seem to tell a similar story. Child locks on everything, secret stashes of everything from jewelry to candy bars, and my personal favorite...everything moved up to the higher shelves. I had two pictures go through my mind when talking about this stuff.

There's a very common selling technique used in grocery stores. You put the items that are popular or bring in the most money, at eye level. It's interesting that you have to employ a similar, though perhaps more extreme technique with young kids. In our house we've gone to great lengths to protect what we would like to keep in the long term. That includes a certain amount of controlled destruction. Giving up old cell phones to save the new ones, allowing the older books to get the bends, rips, and teeth marks to save those precious hard-bound books or ones we'd like to read again at some point. It's all about directing the eyes of your children to the place you want them to go and away from the places you want them to avoid.

I also thought a great deal about hotels, and it really goes further than that, but one step at a time. Thinking about it, I've stayed at a pretty large number of hotels/cabins/condos. I guess I've done my fair share of traveling. The common factor in every place I've ever been is how bare they all are. Now there's obvious reasons for this like the cost associated with decorating each room. Clearly as the owner you would want to make each room as cheap to furnish/decorate as possible while still giving a patron an enjoyable experience. In short, it's nice that we get free soap, but it's also understandable that every room doesn't have a private study. I can also see the benefit in keeping things a little underdone to limit the number of things you set out for people to steal. I don't have big enough luggage to steal more than soap and toilet paper.


Someone, at sometime, had to have brought up that keeping the decor of hotel rooms on that fine line between empty and boring, was a great way to limit the dollar amount of possible destruction by toddlers and rock musicians. We stopped at many different hotels on our recent trip to Florida, and I can say that the two things in any real danger of getting toddlered were the tissues in the bathrooms and the "Guest Manuals" on the dressers. That's pretty darn good! It carries over to other areas as well! Look at homes that are featured in magazines. They don't have anything in them! I think that's what people find attractive. The homes of people who have kids are filled with 15 overflowing toy boxes and baskets to "organize" where things go at the end of the day. The pictures we are shown as examples of a "stylish" or "beautiful" home are pictures where rooms are devoid of anything that would indicate that a person actually lives there. I feel fancy if I get all the toys picked up at the end of the night. I was unaware that what we really need is a large room containing only two expensive chairs and a sconce. Sorry parents, we have too much stuff in our homes for them to be considered elegant, and none of it belongs to us.

I have to wonder if there's really a way to balance the child-proofing that goes on in a home, and making any attempt to have an elegant home. Maybe I'm just hanging with the crowd that, like me, offers one or two rooms up to the lords of mess in order to have a kitchen table that can actually be used for eating.

Moral of the story:

From my own experience, and listening to stories from other parents, there comes a day when you have two choices when it comes to your stuff.

Hide it or watch it get destroyed.

P.S. In order to take the picture I had to get a chair from the table and use it to reach the camera bag on top of the fridge. It did at one point take pretty decent pictures. William took it mostly apart a few months ago so now it lives up there with the bread. So in addition to Porsche, I am willing to be sponsored by a camera company.

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