So this past week I was on spring break, the source of my annual feeling that I should do something big around our house. This year I chose a yard sale, mostly because we were still hanging on to ALL of our kids' clothes from birth to their current size, and we had officially run out of room. I spent a good portion of the week hiding out in our study, frantically labeling all our old stuff with tape and a Sharpie. On Friday we opened the garage door, set our junk on the driveway, and by afternoon had fat wallets and a small enough amount of stuff left that we were easily able to fit it into our trunk to be donated to the high school's after-prom fundraiser rummage sale.
The thing about selling your kids' stuff, though, is that they inevitably see the things you've plucked from their shelves and drawers displayed neatly in the garage. We have tried very hard to regularly purge the kids' old toys, and to balance a message of taking good care of our things with one of willingness to let things go. But, as these things go with preschoolers, I found myself in many lengthy conversations throughout the week about my reasons for selling Daniel's toys and clothes:
-"No, I'm not giving away your new toys. Only the old ones you don't play with any more."
-"No, actually, rattles are generally for babies and you are a big boy."
-"We get rid of our old things so we can have a clean, comfortable house that is not full of junk."
-"Actually that Lightning McQueen shirt does NOT still fit you. See how I can see your belly button when you put it on?"
-"We sell old stuff so we have room for and money for new things that might be more useful to us now."
By the end of the week, I was considering some kind of Lion King-themed Circle-of-Life explanation for the yard sale, claiming that his toys would have new life in the hands of a smaller, younger child. Finally, though, I resorted to allowing each of the kids to buy something new with money we'd earned, and I think a new Spiderman shirt really drove the "out with the old in with the new" message home for Daniel.
For me, though, the yard sale served as a reminder of the great circle of friends and family I have. As I looked through the kids' clothes and toys, I could remember
the people who had lovingly bought, made, and given so many of them. Two friends participated in the yard sale with me, and by the end of the day we had each given some things to each other. It felt good to just let go of bargaining and trying to make money and to just give and receive those things.
There were friends who dropped off and returned borrowed tables for me, who rearranged play dates to make time for me to have the sale, and who came by to see how we were doing. My friend Bethany and I spent the week leading up to the yard sale hashing and rehashing the weather and the logistics, plotting like mini tycoons of used baby items. The night before, when I was knee-deep in junk and nowhere near ready for the morning, my friend Janice dropped off some things and stood joking and laughing with me in my chilly garage.
Living in a college town where a lot of friends come and go has taught me to appreciate my friends, but to hold onto them loosely, like Daniel with his toys. But it is always amazing to me that despite all the transience I am rarely short of friends, local or long-distance, when I need to talk or scheme or laugh. Or sell a bunch of junk on my driveway.