The Day I Took My Son’s Toys Away

It was a typical Sunday afternoon. The sun was shining, the TV was blasting Disney tunes, the house smelled of Pine Sol as I cleaned the house, and my boys were playing contently in their rooms. Or so I thought.

toys

I walked into my 3 year old’s room to instruct him to pick up his toys so I could vacuum his room. Upon entering, I could see his stout little body standing amidst his toys (the millions of toys) doing something inexplicably horrible. I won’t go into detail, but it involved a bodily function. On his toys.  And on the carpet. And wherever else it may have sprayed in his startled state of mind when I shrieked. I asked him why he would do such a thing (keep in mind this 3 year old of mine has been potty trained for well over a year now), and his reasoning was not nearly good enough. His explanation set me off. It sent my emotions into a frenzy, and I did the unthinkable. I did what 98.5% of moms threaten at least twice during their children’s lives…I took all of his toys away. ALL. OF. THEM. Every last, little, tiny Lego and train track piece.

photo 2Two whole black Hefty garbage bags contained all of his toys within 10 minutes of the incident. The black bags quickly made their way out of said 3 year old’s view and a stern momma talk followed. Lecturing toddlers is like nothing else in this world. It is like having a serious conversation with a puppy. In their mind everything is all happy and theirs and Disney Jr and theirs and chicken nuggets and did I mention everything is theirs…. Get my point? He understood why his toys were taken away when I asked. He understood what he did was wrong. I had threatened numerous times to take away his toys before when he mistreated them, was ungrateful, or even when he wouldn’t clean his room when I demanded. But my momma guilt, like always, let him win. Not this time buddy. Oh no, I was DONE! He was going to know who was boss. He was going to know what it was like to go a whole week (which in toddler time is like a year) without any toys. NONE, NADA, ZERO!!! And I was going to sit back and enjoy watching him mope around without anything to play with being bored to tears. Well, he showed me.

Within an hour, I could hear him in his room singing a sweet little song while twirling under his ceiling fan. Later I found him playing with a paper towel roll he got out of the garbage can (albeit nasty). The next morning, I awoke to him using the shoes by the backdoor as boats with rolled socks as its passengers. A few days later I videoed him counting rocks in the driveway. My plan wasn’t going as planned. I just knew that he was going to be grief stricken by not having any of his toys. But what I quickly realized is that toys are meaningless. They are nothing. They are not needed to have a good time or to even PLAY. Why have I spent countless hours searching for the perfect toys for him and his brothers for Christmas and birthdays? Why have I put so much value into these toys that are ubiquitous in my house? It looks like that nasty, horrible, no good incident taught ME a lesson instead of my three year old. Toys are not needed to make a happy child. They are not needed to help encourage their imaginations or even help them learn. Toys are something that make ME as a parent feel complete. When I hand over a brand new toy to my child and I see that instant smile it makes ME happy. Sure, the kid will love that toy for a few days, maybe a few months, but it will get old.  They always do, which in turn leaves them hungry for more and more and more…  And the cycle continues.

photo 3To this day, almost two weeks after the incident, my son has yet to receive his toys back. Not because he is still punished, but simply because he hasn’t asked for them. Okay, wait, he did ask for his LSU helmet last Saturday night, to which I happily obliged, but that is all. He has forgotten the death grip hold his sacred toys once had on him and now he finds happiness in simple, everyday things like bubble wrap that comes with his brother’s monthly shipment of Pediasure. But who can blame him, who doesn’t love bubble wrap?!?!

What lessons have your children taught you?

Katie, a self proclaimed "momma bear", enjoys living her busy, country life with her husband of 10 years and 3 sons just outside of Baton Rouge in Tangipahoa Parish. Katie attended Southeastern Louisiana University where she obtained a degree in Elementary and Special Education. Little did she know how her love of children with special needs would grow shortly after she graduated college. Her middle son, Connor, was born with a rare brain disorder called Schizencephaly-he is wheelchair bound, nonverbal, blind, battles retractable epilepsy, and is fed through a feeding tube. Katie and Connor endure the many trials they are put through with a smile and joy in their heart. Along with being an active member in her church and working for an online public school, Katie regularly advocates for those who experience developmental disabilities at the Louisiana State Capitol. She is the Region 9 leader for Louisiana Citizens for Action Now (LaCAN) and is a member at large for the Governor’s Advisory Council on Disability Affairs. When life's challenges seems too much to bear, Katie remembers this quote to keep forging ahead and being the voice for those who have none, “God often uses our deepest pain as the launching pad of our greatest calling.” -unknown

16 COMMENTS

  1. If my boys (3) don’t pick up their toys when told I bag up toys for a few days. I am tempted to toss them but my hubby says no. I did take a bag of old toys to the garage to be given away. My sons were shocked and usually clean up quite well now. It is true though….. They play well with anything. The imaginations amaze me.

  2. I started cleaning my 8 and 4 year old’s playroom at the end of the day…i told them whatever is left out is put away indefinitely. i thought this would get them to pick up toys. but the pile of their toys in my closet is growing and growing, and they just don’t care. they play with other stuff, they do kid things. they still don’t clean. can’t win them all, I guess

  3. I strongly recommend that you please all be so kind and let the children keep things that they really have been dealing with all the time and love them so much so far!!!If you see that children love these things very much and want to give up beloved things, then under no circumstances should you remove these things, and then not if they are already grownups and want to keep those things in mind in memory of childhood!!!If there really is no room, then just buy the storage boxes and the problem is solved!!! I also have many things at home, but I’ve been able to keep everything in good condition thanks to these storage boxes and I do not see any problem!!!If you can see that the kids are really good at keeping things up very well after dealing and the rooms are absolutely perfectly clean every day, please let them keep things until they really want it !!! If they can not clean it, then teach them and if they are cleaning everything, then keeping things is not a problem if there are big storage boxes.If children want to keep their things up,then let them do it !!! Children still want to make their own collections, videos and in the future they would definitely want to give their old things to their children !!!If there is no room at all, then take some things, but not all things, if they like their things very much !!! I consider collectibles of children’s things to be very valuable, because for some time they become rare and there is no way to get them again! I have a very big Disney collection in my home and there are other things too. I do not give anything away because these are my things!!! If I have decided to keep my childhood things, then I’ll keep them forever!!!I’m very experienced in childhood things and I know that things in childhood needs to be kept so that you can remember the old good times and in the future give them to your children!!!
    Reminder and teachings for parents and children!!!

  4. I love this article. I’m organizing know with plans to put everything in locked storage cupboards and rotate so that about 10% of their toys are out and available at any given moment. When they seem to be getting bored, I’ll switch things out for items that haven’t been out for a while. This is for 2 reasons; one being I’m sick of cleaning, I have piles of toys in EVERY SINGLE ROOM of my house. The second reason bc young children are easily overwhelmed by too much stuff. They don’t yet have organizational skills and can’t effectively play with half the things they have because they can’t find all the pieces. I’m also trying to instill my values; money is better spent on experiences than things. As far as the previous poster…sounds like a hoarding issue. My kids don’t need boxes of old toys to maintain happy childhood memories. I didn’t, and I honestly can’t remember a single toy I had, though I know I had them. I do, however, remember seeing fireworks every year in the same spot at the same park, trips to the county fair, and big family dinners around my grandmother’s table. I’m blessed that I have more to value in my life than boxes and boxes of “stuff”, I guess.

  5. This article is great to read. I just shoved all the toys in garbage bags. They are sitting in the kitchen. Then guilt kicks in and I am worried I will forever scar my 4 year old. I just do not know how to handle him. He is a mouthy punk right now. Talking back so much. I am exhausted.

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