The above picture shows the miscellaneous pile of Stuff I have just cleared off my bedroom floor: Stuff deposited by my children over the past 24 hours or so. It includes a broken pirate ship (The Boy), a bath book (The Baby), a Primary Times mag (Boy), a rubber (Baby) and a tyre from a toy monster truck (owned by The Boy but appropriated by The Baby), among other things.
I know I’m not alone in having children who are obsessed with Stuff, but at the moment, I feel like I’m drowning in it. By Stuff, I mean random and mostly useless objects that don’t have a designated place to live and so get dumped on the nearest flat surface. A quick look around the lounge right now reveals a notepad, a whistle and a packet of Fruit Pastilles on the windowsill, a book (Stories for Six-Year-Olds; yep, The Boy has incriminated himself there) on the arm of the sofa and a sun hat in the middle of the floor, and that’s *after* tidying up. I know there is also a roll of Sellotape on the stairs and a baby shoe wedged down the side of the kitchen bin – a location that will elude me when I’m searching everywhere for it in the morning.
The Boy’s love affair with Stuff has been ongoing for some time. I have lost count of the number of pet stones, sticks and elastic bands he has come home with, and this morning I had to put my foot down when I realised he’d peeled the label off the milk bottle and was about to secrete it in his bedroom. But now The Baby has joined in, too. Her current obsession is with the dispenser caps from laundry liquid bottles. I have no idea how many she has stolen from me, but there are at least three that I know of hidden in and around her bedroom.
Stuff also includes party bag toys, comic cover-gifts, drawings and notes, and crayons. Honestly, we have more crayons than your average primary school could ever need – and yet I can never find a functioning pen when I need one. Stuff also breeds. I don’t know how, but it does.
Our house isn’t big enough for all this Stuff. I knew it was getting out of hand when DH, at the weekend, had an exasperated rant about children who dump Stuff anywhere. Of course, his own jumper, abandoned on top of the banister, and trainers, strategically located in front of, rather than on, the shoe rack, don’t count…
Every now and then, I have a Stuff cull. I’ll admit to smuggling useless bits of tat into the bin when no one is looking; I managed to get rid of three pots of dried up glitter paint (‘jewel pots,’ according to The Boy) at the weekend. I’ve also given him a shoebox to keep his ‘treasures’ in, in an attempt to rationalise the spread of chaos throughout the house, but it doesn’t work.
I guess Stuff is part and parcel of living with small children, but I do wish that, at the very least, they could keep it in their own rooms. I do not relish getting into bed at night and lying on a small piece of Taiwanese-made rubbish. Nor is it particularly pleasant to get up to The Baby in the night and step on a Lego brick.
Then again, for all the lovely toys the children have, it’s Stuff that occupies them above all else. And actually, when The Baby is so engrossed in banging two washing dispenser cups together that I manage to get all the laundry folded and put away, I’ll (grudgingly) concede that Stuff has its uses.
But, children: no more stones. Please.