Kid stuff: even after they wear out, break or are outgrown, some baby things are keepers

Kid stuff: even after they wear out, break or are outgrown, some baby things are keepers – editor’s note

Peg Moline

It’s amazing how much stuff we accumulate, especially if we have kids. Our family moved a few weeks ago, and I had the painful (though some find joy in it) job of deciding what baby stuff to pack, what to give away and what to toss. Many people know I’m a notorious saver, perhaps even a pack rat. I can’t throw away things that have strong memories attached to them, especially if they’re memories of my kids. So I discovered what made the cut to be quite revealing.

I found myself unable to part with an activity center that had been handed down from family to family for about 15 years. The bells still ring, but the cranks barely turn and the once-white surface is dark in favorite spots from years of use. I can remember my husband’s and my delight as each baby first became able to reach for a handle in wonder, and how they laughed when the birdie popped out. Same with one of those classic popper-upper things–push one button and a chicken jumps up, turn a knob and it’s a dog–and a boat my Aunt Pat gave Maggie that says over and over: “I’m a tug-boat captain!”

We gave a beautiful set of plastic blocks to the little boy down the street, but the dinged-up wooden puzzles? Too precious to part with. I can still see the concentration it took to get the fire engine piece in the fire engine cutout, the pride. The plastic highchair went to a local shelter, but the double Baby Jogger that helped me get back into shape after Maggie was born I had to keep. It always veered to the side that Lily sat on ’cause she was bigger, but boy, did we fly together. Endless bags of cheap birthday-party goodies–what do you think? But the faded BabyBjorn–it still smells like baby, and the feeling of a sleeping baby’s head just under my chin, my hand against her curved little back … never could I get rid of that.

What these things have in common is that whether it was the play phone they pretended to use to call me at work or the deck of cards bent from endless games of War, we experienced them together. Those are the things that last, even if they break or wear out. I had the hardest time throwing away a Graco backpack that held first one daughter, then another, on our Sunday hikes in Topanga Canyon. It was torn, missing parts, completely unusable. But I have pictures of 1-year-old Lily in it, her pink hat on her head, clutching the sage she picked along the trail. I tossed. I cried.

There are products that are so strictly practical and useful that they run their course and can be discarded without a thought. Then there are the keepers, like the tiniest pair of lacy baby socks you can imagine.

Buy well.

[P.S. Write to me at letterstopeg@weiderpub.com.]

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