Lessons Learned from De-Kidding the House…

cleaning gloves

Warning: Get a beverage first. 

The last child departed for college last weekend. While I am a little sad about this new phase of my life, I am also excited about his future and the future wedded life of two people who haven’t stopped thinking about parenting since about 1984. My dad had a philosophy about entering his retirement years: “You don’t retire from something; you retire to something.” In other words you make some plans for the next phase of your life and get busy living out those plans. That’s my choice for this empty nest phase of my life.

My mother-in-law, upon entering this phase of her life, took one of her offspring’s bedrooms and converted it into a child’s playroom. Why? Because she was already a grandmother and felt the “grands” (as she calls them) needed a safe place to play when visiting her home. She took the “remnants” of her own children’s playthings and created a haven for her eventual 12 grandchildren. Recently, she and her hubby made the decision that it was time to move in with their daughter and her family and thus, the old homestead, including the playroom, went on the market. However, before it sold, all of us gathered at that home to reminisce about our memories of the house they called home for 43 years. Chief among the “grands” memories are playing in that playroom and that just stuck with me.

It also occurred to me that if I want to invite people over for dinner in this next phase of life, some of them are going to have young children and they are probably going to get bored with adult conversation at some point in the evening. So, having a playroom for them to explore and discover would be an awesome way to entertain them until the day when I have my own “grands”. Therefore, each of my children’s bedrooms are about to be converted. One is already semi-converted–my daughter’s former bedroom is slowly evolving into a writing office for me. My eldest son’s bedroom will revert to a guest bedroom for all of our out-of-town and out-of-state relatives. But, the youngest’s room is about to become…as you probably guessed…the playroom.

I have big ideas for that playroom, probably too many to actually put into one small room, but the first part of creating the playroom means gathering up all the “remnants” of my kids’ childhoods and when you begin to clean out closets, drawers, toy bins, game cabinets and student desks, there are bound to be a few surprises along the way. Their belongings have migrated all over the house, so “de-kidding” the majority of the house is a really interesting process, especially when your kids really like hanging on to things. Here’s what I have learned so far:

    1. Wear a hazmat suit.
    2. A welding mask may come in handy, too.
    3. Bring your own supply of oxygen and put a clothespin on your nose.
    4. Buy a case of hospital gloves. Change frequently to prevent getting bubonic plague.
    5. I now know why we never have any flashlight batteries. They were at the back of the “games cabinet” for the games that do not require batteries. I suppose this is somehow logical in a kid’s world.
    6. We don’t have much in the “safe” toy department. I’m not sure if this is an indictment of my parenting or if this is because the safe toys were all destroyed by ruffian children long ago. I didn’t say my children were stupid.
    7. We have a lot of kid movies, but no VCR to play them on.
    8. We have a lot of kid music, but no cassette player to play them on.
    9. I’m thinking the kid cassettes and videocassettes will make an interesting grandparent story that begins, “When your mom or dad was a little girl/boy, they had to walk 12 miles to school every morning in the snow, uphill both ways and they watched movies on a machine called a VCR. What is a VCR???? Well, your dad was fond of putting apple cores in ours because he thought it was hungry…”
    10. Order a semi-load of garbage bags.
    11. Alert your trash service that you need a dumpster.
    12. Question whether each item is trash or simply something you do not understand because it bears no resemblance to the toys you thought you bought your child.
    13. Throw out all the flattened penny souvenirs on the pretense that they are a choking hazard.
    14. Throw out all the gum wrappers…even the ones with antique status from 1987.
    15. Step around the stain in the carpeting that your children have carefully hidden on the pretense that they wanted to rearrange their rooms.
    16. Be thankful you’re wearing the hazmat suit based on the discovery of # 15.
    17. A kid can pack all of his stuff for college and his room still looks the same. I guess he kept all the “good stuff” under his bed??? I don’t think I want to know. I’m officially scared. Maybe Maizie should come with me for cleaning out under the bed….for protection.
    18. If you ever wondered what happened to the change left over from sending them to school to pay for certain necessary items, it’s in the dresser drawer that will no longer open without a controlled demolition of your son’s room.
    19. What’s keeping it from opening? My guess would be an experiment with gum from 1987.
    20. Dress socks are apparently non-essential stuff for college.
    21. I’m totally amazed the Children’s Story Bible is not essential equipment for a college dorm.
    22. I’m not really sure what I’m going to do with the purple and aqua frosted pop tarts in my pantry. Oh. Wait. There are probably enough preservatives in those things to last until I have a grandchild old enough to be poisoned by them…around 2020.
    23. I’d throw out more stuff, but I’m pretty sure it would damage the ozone.
    24. You know it’s bad when the dogs won’t even sniff it.
    25. I have found a new reason not to eat….ever. My cardiologist will be so pleased.
    26. I’m not sure Wally World has enough bug killer and Lysol spray for this operation.
    27. I now understand why we had credit card debt for 25 years.


Monday’s Post: Has it been aegis for you, too? 🙂

You might also like: Lessons Learned from Being a Pansy and No, I Don’t Mean the Flower, The Boy Leaves for Lubbock, and Things I Love about the Man I Married

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This entry was posted on Thursday, August 22nd, 2013 at 10:50 am and is filed under Fun Stuff, Lessons Learned. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

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