Letting Go of Childhood a Piece at a Time

“It kills you to see them grow up. But I guess it would kill you quicker if they didn’t.” – Barbara Kingsolver

Goodbye old friend.

I took a load of  – I hate to call it clutter – let’s say I took a load of personal history to Goodwill today. It needed to be done. Outgrown clothes and some Zumba hand weight thingies I won as a door prize one time. Those I won’t miss.

But my kids both sorted through their books a while back and put a stack in the give away pile. I sighed and pined as I stroked the cover of each book before putting it in the brown grocery bag. I even skimmed through a couple of them. I miss the days when the kids and I read together. Goodbye Enid Blyton. Goodbye Boxcar Children.

As hard as it was passing on the books, the real wrench came with the toy shopping cart. My husband and I gave it to our daughter for Christmas the year she was three. At the time, I had little faith in its durability. I thought she’d play with it for three or four months and then get tired of it or it would break. I’ve never before or since given anyone a gift that was such a hit. It was the first package opened, and my daughter used it the rest of the day to deliver items to people. After that, the cart often went with us to the grocery store, where my little girl would do her shopping right next to mine. It delivered our “extra mail” sometimes – pieces of scrap paper or real junk mail that I gave her so she could do her postal rounds.

When we moved from our old house to the one where we now live, my daughter was eight. We did a severe pruning of goods at that time, but the shopping cart survived the cut. My son was barely five, and he still played with it sometimes. In fact, my daughter did, too, even though she towered over it by then. After a while, nobody pushed it around anywhere, but it sat in a corner of my daughter’s room, where she used it to store craft supplies.

A couple of years ago, she decluttered her room and finally moved out the shopping cart, telling me she was ready to let go of it. So I placed it in a corner of my and my husband’s bedroom, where it remained for another two years. I kept thinking I couldn’t give it to just anyone. I was waiting for the right child to come along. I wanted to know who got it and perhaps see them play with it. But that never happened.

This morning I stopped kidding myself. Since I was taking several things to Goodwill anyway, I knew I needed to include the cart. My daughter is 17, for goodness sake. It’s time for some other child to discover it and get some joy from it, even if I never know who that child is. I had to dab a tear as I put the shopping cart in the back of my van. I know for the next year or two, I’ll keep my eyes open at the grocery store, hoping to see some little kid pushing a blue and pink cart down the aisles.

One thought on “Letting Go of Childhood a Piece at a Time

  1. Oh, Ida! I feel you on this one. Back in May, Julian went through the shelves of children’s books in our living room with a cold eye. He was ruthless, and the piles grew large. I just this week was finally able to bring home a box with the intent of contemplating where the books could go next. Should they be donated to the library? What about a school book drive? What if one of the older siblings wants them? Someday soon, I will sift through the titles. But probably not today.

    On an up note, I once managed to pass along the wooden kitchen and vegetable-choppin’ set my kids had loved to a little girl that loved them perhaps even more. Her mom took photos of her daughter carrying bits and pieces of the set around for years. Nice. Who knows where that little pink and blue shopping cart will end up. 🙂

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