Last weekend I got the biggest, blackest garbage bag I could find, and I snuck into Aidan’s room with it. I stuffed it full of junk: cars without wheels, books missing pages, half-filled scribble books, torn-up clothes. It’s amazing how much trash can grow underneath a bunk bed over a three-year period. I found an empty goody bag from a birthday party, blue with little soccer balls all over it, and tossed it in there. I found old pieces of puzzles. Gone. I even (I confess) tossed a few perfectly good toys that seemed too small to donate, but too old to keep.
I took that bag, and when no one was looking, I stuck it into the garbage bin outside. It must’ve held 20 pounds of stuff.
It felt great to purge all of those things. One whole bag, gone forever. To celebrate, I headed inside and started working on dinner.
A couple of hours later, the boys were still outside, happily playing with friends. The door burst open, and in came Aidan, sobbing hysterically. I couldn’t understand a word he was saying, but I couldn’t find any blood either. I was trying to calm him down, to get him to tell me what had happened, when Shay and his friend Jack ran up behind him. “The garbage men stole all of Aidan’s toys!” they shouted, and my heart sank. All three boys were now shouting about cars, and books and evil garbage men.
I went outside to see the garbage truck pulling away down the street, too far away to catch. There was a guard supervisor still there, though, and when he saw me coming toward him, sobbing boy in tow, he sheepishly reached into his truck and pulled out the blue birthday goody bag, now full of broken toy cars.
He handed the bag to me, saying only “It was in the garbage can.”
“I know,” I told him. “I put it in there myself.”
And then I wanted to say “If only you could’ve waited to divvy it up until you were around the corner, it all would’ve been yours.” But of course I didn’t have the words for that. So I just thanked him, handed the bag to Aidan, and went back inside.
The boys went through the little bag of recovered loot, all that was left after the garbage men picked it over. They were indignant. “They stole Aidan’s toys!!” they kept exclaiming, “and they were taking them all right in front of him.” Then, after a pause, Shay quietly asked, “I wonder how they got the toys out of Aidan’s room?”
I pretended I didn’t hear the question.
But the next time I purge the boys’ rooms, it’ll be a school day.