The Sea of Stuff
We have a small house. Sarah has a small room. We don't buy her much stuff, and don't encourage acquisitiveness. We are packrats ourselves, though most of our own clutter takes the form of books and papers.
But with the advent of parenthood, suddenly we were swamped with stuff, and a tide of it has washed up on our shores every few months, cresting in December and August but never entirely receding.
And Sarah loves her stuff. All of it. Every measly plastic car. Every raggedy pair of underpants. We've given up on involving her in any kind of toy-rotation system because invitably she insists that she needs everything, in her room, right now. She will then proceed to play with stuff that she's been ignoring for six months or so.
So we sneak in when she's not paying attention and move whole bags of clothes and toys down to the basement. Then, if a year goes by without her noticing that they were missing, we ship them off to babies and toddlers, thereby ensuring that our friends and relations will also have inventory-control issues for the next ten years or so.
Last night, while Sarah was in the bathtub, we did a commando raid on her wardrobe, pulling out most of the summer clothes and everything she's outgrown or will likely never wear, and rushing it out of the room in plain brown Trader Joe's bags before she could notice and sound the alarm. (RW tackled the toy situation right before Sarah's birthday, so we're set in that area till the Chanukah/Christmas feeding frenzy.) Finally, she had empty hangers! Space in her dresser drawers! A reasonable amount of clothing!
After she went to bed, we commenced Part Two of the operation: sorting through the replacement clothes. RW brought up the "Fall/Winter 04" bags from the basement and we started going through the hand-me downs from her fourth (fourth!) cousins and from Big Lilly, and the too-big-at-the-time-but-she'll-grow-into-it presents from her numerous relatives. (Have I mentioned that this child has ten grandparents? One of whom works as a greeter at Wal-Mart?) By the time we finished, an hour later, she had more clothes than ever, including several pairs of jeans that may or may not see the light of day (since she only wears dresses), enough tights to clothe every child in Miss Clavel's academy, and one particularly fancy black velvet dress, with crinoline, which I suppose might get worn if she's invited to a coronation before she grows out of size 5.
Meanwhile, RW and I are reduced to borrowing each other's clothes in order to scrape together enough professional-looking outfits to get us through the week. But then, as Sarah notes scornfully, "Librarians are not fancy."
Jealousy of my child's wardrobe: another thing I wasn't prepared for.