Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Tough Love

Without being the least bit sarcastic, we have long called Brayden “our little bag lady” due to her pack-rat tendencies. Since she was big enough to walk, she has always – ALWAYS – dragged around a purse. Or backpack. Or gym bag. Or pillow case. Or lunch box. Or paper sack. Or whatever else she could find to carry her “treasures” in. When she was younger she would sleep with her bags, and often carry more than one at a time. I even did a scrapbook layout about it. It was cute, and we laughed ….. and then as she got older, it got a little bit annoying.

Still, to this day, we're always waiting on her to gather her stuff, and she schleps all her crap around in purses or bags. In a pinch, she’ll even use a plastic Target sack … or whatever she needs to fit all her junk in. Totally unnecessary junk, I might add. This years 4th of July parade? She carried twenty (no exaggeration) stuffed animals with her. Why? Can anyone tell me??? Her book-bag from school is crammed so full of un-needed school supplies and extra books and graded papers --that she refuses to throw away -- that she can barely lift it. When we get in the car, for a ten-minute ride, she’ll bring two or three library books, a doll, a stuffed animal or two, a pen and paper, and a tie-a-knot blanket project, or bracelet making kit, or whatever, INSISTING that she NEEDS all of it. Also as she’s gotten older, the items in her purses have gotten more valuable. Now she has an ipod and a Nintendo DS that she insists on taking everywhere.

You’ve probably guessed where this story is going --- about two weeks ago, she lost one of her purses. Couldn’t remember *exactly* where the last place she had it was, but could remember pretty much everything that was in it: her Nintendo, all her Nintendo games, cash, all the tags and id codes for her Webkinz, and jewelry that her grandmother had given her. When I asked her why she was even carrying that stuff around, instead of leaving it in her bedroom where it belonged, she couldn’t really say. Just that you never know when or where you might NEED it. And now it was lost, and she was devastated. And somehow it was all my fault, although I’m still not really sure how.

Blaine and I did everything we could think of to help her remember where she might have lost it. We searched the house and the van high and low. We checked grandma's house. We mentally back-tracked our steps the past two weeks, and called every restaurant we had eaten at. Brayden was very upset that it hadn’t been turned in to the lost and found anywhere …. I asked her, “Brayden, if you found a purse with no personal identification, with cash and a Nintendo in it, do you really think most people are going to turn it in to lost and found? And even if they did, what was to stop a restaurant or store employee from taking it??”

She was very upset, to say the least. And I’ll admit, I felt bad for her. The Nintendo DS and games she had purchased with her own money and a Christmas gift card. The cash was hers, and the jewelry was obviously personal. And as annoyed as I was with her, and as much as I wanted to say a big ole’ “I told you so!” for all the times I had told her not to carry all her stuff around, that she was going to lose it eventually ….. I still hated to see her without. Anytime Kellen and Kendrie would race one another on their DS’s this past week, I felt sad about the look on Brayden’s face.

And yeah, I’ll admit, I was tempted to go buy her another one. She was so genuinely distressed, and no parent wants their kid to be unhappy or do without. But Blaine and I knew replacing the stuff she had lost wasn’t the answer, nor was that the lesson we wanted her to learn. So as much as I hated it, I told her she was going to have to save up the money to buy her own replacement. Oh, the drama and tears that ensued …..

Saturday night, Kendrie had a friend spend the night. Yesterday, Kellen had a friend over to play, and last night, Brayden has a friend spending the night. You can about imagine the state of the girls’ bedroom upstairs. As I was helping set up the extra mattress on the floor and getting blankets for our guest, Brayden made some comment about the room was so messy she couldn’t even sleep in it and wanted to pick up some. Now, you have to realize she’s one of the biggest slobs on the planet, so she was TOTALLY only trying to get Kellen and Kendrie in trouble, by clearly pointing out to me how the room had been trashed. I told her if she wanted to pick up that would be fine, and if not, I’d make everyone do it in the morning. Then I came downstairs and (shocker!) got on the computer.

I few minutes later I heard a shriek, and someone running down the stairs. Brayden bust into my office, holding a cardboard box, and announced to me in a jubilant voice, “Mom, I found my stuff!!” Apparently she had put the purse, along with another purse, a necklace, a tin full of pencils, more costume jewelry, and a journal, into a cardboard box and put it in the corner of her room, where it had promptly been covered up by her dolls. When she was cleaning up tonight she straightened the dolls and discovered the box. To say she was overjoyed would be an understatement. **WHY** all that stuff was in a cardboard box in the corner is still not clear to me, but it's pretty par for the course for her. I was just thrilled that she finally found it.

I gave her a big hug and told her how happy I was for her. Then I tried to turn it into an educational moment with comments like, “This has been a good lesson to all of us about putting things where they belong, right?” and “Now that you know how it feels to lose something, I’m sure you’ll be more careful in the future.” And Brayden agreed, and exuded relief and glee, and smiled happily, and kittens and rainbows and blahblahblah, all was right with the world again.

So then I said, “In a weird way, we can even be grateful to Kendrie for messing up your side of the room since otherwise you wouldn’t have found it.”

And she looked me square in the eye and replied with, “I wouldn’t go that far.”


katy said...

I'm sure Brayden feels as strongly about having her "things" with her as you do about her not having them with her. I'm glad everything worked out ok and everyone is happy. You showed a lot of restraint by not giving her the old "I told you so."

cakeburnette said...

yeah, sad to say, you should have said, "I told you so." I'm betting she learned nothing about putting things where they belong. Why the pessimism, you ask? Because she's 11. Know who else is 11? Austin. The boy who "lost" his original iPod for 3 months (it was in his father's car...where he had been told to look for it for the entire 3 months it was lost). Thanks to a AF bonus (read: extended TDY/vacation in Crete for his father), he got a video iPod 2 months ago. WHICH HE PROMPTLY LOST IN HIS ROOM. It was lost for a month. And where was it? IN A LEGO BIN UNDER HIS BED. He has 3 and I told him to dump all 3 out and look in there. He dumped ONE out and said it wasn't in the bins. I am willing to bet you money that if I were to go into his room right now, neither iPod would be on the docking station where it belongs. Sheesh; 11-year-olds: will they ever learn?!

Denise said...

Oh Kristie!

If I didn't know any better, I would think that Sweet Brayden was my daughter! Unfortunately and sadly, I still seem to be that way! Until just recently, I had ALL my daughter's clothes since she was born and she is 13! (Talk about a pack rat!)

Hopefully, she will grow out of it, or hopefully she will discover that you don't need all that crap that we tend to carry around!

Thank yuo for keeping us up to date with the family happenings!

You make me laugh on a regular basis!

Leeann said...

Oh Kristie,

I loved todays post. So much of what you wrote about Brayden could have been about my thirteen year old daughter Kate. One foot in the world of iPod and the other still in the world of dolls and rainbows. But passionate about both and all that entails!


Anonymous said...

I have one JUST like her...exhausting, isn't it?
In fact, just this morning, Kerry and I had to go BACK to a soccer field where she had left the necklace that my brother had just given her.
Milford, CT

Cate said...

I was raised by two pack rats. HUGE pack rats. Literally, they still have their college notes...from the classes of 1964 and 1966 because they might need them someday. As they both work in fields that require the use of loads of technology, I'm thinking it's good kindling at this point.

I am anything but! If I don't use something for six months, out it goes. I keep a few sentimental pieces, but those are kept in a scrapbook that isn't even full.

I don't get it at all, but I bet, because got has a wonderful sense of humor, I will give birth to one.

And no, she won't learn. I'm 35 and still loose my keys on a regular basis.

Tracy said...

My son recently "misplaced" his shorts with his ipod in the pocket-he swore he looked everywhere (which usually entails walking into his room, staring into thin air and waiting for the lost object to send him a signal to it's location)..Funny my husband does has the same procedure-doesn't work for either of them??
I finally broke down and cleaned my son's room as well as did his laundry-low and behold the ipod appeared after going throught the washer-I actually felt guilty for possibly ruining it-but all turned out and the lost ipod lives on until another day..

Anonymous said...

That reminds me of my son. He is always losing things, and he's really a very tidy kid. He just leaves keys, wallet, etc. laying around the house. Last fall (his first in college) he lost his high school class ring and was devastated. I had been telling him since he got it not to take it off and set it down when he washed his hands, ate, etc, but he wouldn't listen. He couldn't remember where he lost it and I made many phone calls and he searched everywhere. We were packing his room up to move him home in May and he was taking clothes out of his dresser to put in the suitcase. He pulled out a pair of athletic shorts and said there was something in the pocket...you guessed it! Talk about excited! I hope he learned his lesson!

Gayle in AL

Kat said...

My 4 year old drags her treasures everywhere we go as well. I have a strict leave it in the car rule. I don't mind if she takes treasure with her, but I don't want to hear it if she loses them.

Kristi said...

Yep. I have one of those! He recently lost his wallet. It had over $50 in birthday cash, his student ID and an irreplaceable Black Belt ID he earned whith his black belt in Tae Kwon Do. We searched hi and low. He's notorious for putting things in a "safe" place and forgetting. Many days later after looking in every nook and cranny, I went to drop some Lego's in the Lego box and there was the wallet! Yep, he put it in there to keep it safe. Grrrrr.....

Ginger said...

As a self-proclaimed pack-rat, I feel Brayden's pain. As a mom, I can't count the times we've gone through something very similar with our older girls......but it's REALLY hard to yell at them, when my purse is always busting at the seams with crap I might need too. ;o)

Completely unrelated, but I'm hoping you'll help out. One of my dearest friends and co-workers is now spending all of her days and nights at Egleston with her 11 year old daughter in the PICU. A very sudden illness turned out to be a virus attacking her heart. After going into cardiac arrest several times and resuscitated, Quinn was put on ECMO and a vent. She's back off ECMO now after the dangers started to outweigh the benefits, and they are trying to wean her off the vent. Today's MRI showed some brain damage, and blood clots in her carotid artery. They are beside themselves, and asking everyone they know for prayers.

You have a lot of readers, so consider this a shameless plug to your vast and varied audience. Please pray for Quinn's healing and her parents' strength. Her carepage is at www.carepages.com/carepages/Quinn

Anonymous said...

I can so totally relate to this. Marielle is the biggest pack rat on the planet. Every receipt, every dry cleaning tag, has to be saved (for who knows what reason). While at camp this summer, I cleaned out her room and ended up with 2 bags of garbage and 2 bags of stuff that was donated....and so far she has not missed a thing. Of course, I know what things not to mess with.

You should see us going to clinic...backpack filled to the gills and God forbid we forget one of the important animals.


Anonymous said...

My mother-in-law also packs her purses with things that she might need; mostly hand sanitizer, survival food, pens and paper for emergency notes, medicines, etc. She might be a bit fearful...
I once saw her pull an organic frozen burrito from her purse at my son's football game!

DivaDunn said...

I couldn't help but get an image of some Mary Poppins style purse! Too bad she doesnt have that nose- twitchy-head-nod everything marches back into place talent too...

Don't worry - I was the same way as a kid and now I'm an absolute neat freak. (In fact - our house got robbed and the police thought my room had been hit the hardest - my mom said - No, that's how it always looks!)

lizinsumner said...

Whew - until I got down to the end, I was afraid that you were going to say that the reason you couldn't find Brayden's stuff was because Barley ate it! Thank goodness she didn't. I have a pack-rat too - a 14 year old male one, who still has toys/books/etc. that are at least 10 years old and panics whenever I suggest getting rid of any of them. Drives me nuts!

Patty House, Jasonville, IN said...

I'm so glad she found her stuff! I was starting to feel bad for her too, especially about losing the stuff from her grandma.

Hopefully, she's start leaving that stuff at home!

Neither of my kids pack stuff around. Grace carrys baby dolls to/from the car, but rarely takes them out of the car.

Anonymous said...

It's hereditary! I got it from my dad and Derek and Brayden got it from me. I guess you dont have to live with someone to have the "pack rat" gene! Its a terrible habit, and Ive actually gotten better now that I have a kid who is worse about it then me. And it isnt just because he is 15, he has been a pack rat all his life. He seems to think that there is a possible use for EVERYTHING and will hang onto it just in case. You should see the crap he has stored in his room. Sometimes I go through it when he's not home and start throwing things away or packing them up. Problem is - I do it too. My reason for hanging onto things is usually for sentimental reasons, although sometimes it is for "potential".
As hard as you try to break this habit, it is probably ingrained in her and will never go away. I'm proof! My mom is a neat freak and tried constantly with me and of course it didnt work. I also lose everything! I would probably lose my head if it wasnt screwed on.


Tammy in Ohio said...

Your story sounds sooo vaugely familiar. Didn't that very thing happen here only moments ago. Only it happens on a regular basis. "Mom, my soccer bag is lost and YOU probably threw it away!" Yea. It is always my fault. And funny how I always seem to be able to go the the bedroom and pick up something like a sock and BOOM, there it is. Hmmm. Tammy