Toy or trash?
How is it that the amount of plastic toys and packaging currently lying around my house is far greater than the sum of what was under the Christmas tree? And why will I keep finding pine needles in surprising places long after that Christmas tree has gone?
These Christmas mysteries would normally not bother me so much but the problem is I have a property inspection of my rental home this week. Now, I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, like I did, that there must have been something in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that stops real estate agents from organising house inspections between Christmas and when the kids graduate from high school. Wrong. Apparently, they are well within their rights to organise an inspection pretty much whenever they like, including the second week of January. It's got something to do with something written in some document I might have signed called a lease. Or something.
So instead of enjoying my usual post-Christmas stupor watching The Lord of The Rings Trilogy Director's Extra-Extended Cut while eating breakfast cereal with eggnog, I have been trying to get the house "inspection ready" with multiple children underfoot. This is like a major covert military operation, particularly when trying to dispose of those objects that are never dearer to the children's hearts than when I am trying to put them in the bin.
Here are some examples of awkward conversations I've been having with my children lately:
DAUGHTER: What have you got in your hand, Mum?
ME: Oh... Um, nothing. Nothing at all.
DAUGHTER: There's something in your hand. What is it?
ME: Nothing, I swear!
DAUGHTER: WHAT. HAVE. YOU. GOT. IN. YOUR. HAND!!!
(I'll then open my tightly clenched fist to reveal a pair of miniature barbeque tongs which, it'll turn out, belong to her Polly Pocket and which apparently neither she nor Polly can "live without" even though neither of them own a barbeque, miniature or otherwise.)
YOUNGEST SON: Why is my tennis ball in the bin?
ME: You mean the one that you found in the park which looked like it had been chewed, swallowed, digested and shat out by a diseased dog and which you insisted on taking home with you so it could lie forgotten under the couch?
YOUNGEST SON: Yes! My precious Bally! Don't throw away Bally! (*sobs and clutches the tennis ball to his small, heaving chest*) Balllllll-yyyyyyyy!
ELDEST SON: Why is Zaktan's left leg armoury in the recycling?
ME: Who's Zaktan?
ELDEST SON: The green Piraka.
ME: Are you speaking English right now?
ELDEST SON: It's a Bionicle. Why is it in the recycling?
ME: You mean, that piece of plastic has another purpose other than being inconveniently underfoot when I try to go to the toilet in the middle of the night?
ELDEST SON: Shuh!
I mean, really, the only thing I can hope for is that Santa offers a toy removal service, employing the same stealth-like tactics to remove rather than deliver toys.