I watched a segment on one of those morning news shows recently that had as a guest the author of Secrets of an Organized Mom. “When it comes to getting organized with kids, you have to start by throwing out some sentimentality” says professional organizer and mom Barbara Reich.  “All those lovely artworks and macaroni-and-glue creations your little darlings bring home from school? Toss ’em”.  I agreed with the interviewer in that the advice sounded a little heartless. Barbara advises of the artwork “It’s really not that special”. Wow.

Okay, despite her blunt delivery, I agree. I imagine keeping every single piece of paper your children scribble on can get to be a bit too much.  As I watch this, I am reminded of a closet in the house in which is piled several boxes of my stuff from elementary and middle school that I decide to tackle.  What I have forgotten though is that years ago I’d already gone through the chaos that was this closet and there are only 4 boxes neatly stacked in the corner and a small basket with a lid that used to house a doll and her accessories.  Well, I’m sure inside those boxes are plenty of papers that I can toss and whittle this down to 2 boxes instead of the 4. The first box was small and square. Able to be held in one hand it contained only a few books. The second much larger had a couple of baby dolls, doll clothes and shoes, those Mickey Mouse souvenirs from that Disneyland trip I’m sure I  begged to have. Uh huh! I WILL use them! (…ahem….they are unopened and in prime condition….let’s move on…) my faded purple Wuzzles bag with the rainbow straps  which contained more doll clothes, plastic hair rollers, a battery operated visor with lights, a strawberry shortcake – which I’m sure is actually my sister’s as I was forced to get Huckleberry Pie so we wouldn’t have the same character -yes, I AM bitter – and some other pocket sized doll with pink hair that I’m sure used to smell like something other than a cardboard box.  A third heavy box full of books. Many of them I remember. Most of them had my sister’s name on the inside cover; neatly clicked out in white on red plastic tape made from a 1980s Avery label maker.  I’m sure this was done to distinguish her books from my Imagebooks. Whatever – finder’s keepers! The best thing I’ve found however is a notebook from around when I was 11.  It’s banged up, missing a cover and most pages but some pages survived. This must have been a creative writing notebook as it’s filled with stories of a clumsy knight, time travel, characters named Ludmilla,  field trips, a person drowning in a bowl of coco puffs and a speech written as if I were running for Mayor in which my slogan was “Don’t be defiant, vote for Shannon Bryant” Catchy huh? My favorite story which had me laughing for its absurdity is a mystery story. I’ve included the story below so that you can bask in my middle school genius-ness. I’m sure I didn’t keep this notebook on purpose. I’m sure I just threw it in a box to clean my room up at some point. After reading through it, I’ve decided that organizer mom is only partially correct.  It is probably not feasible to keep everything your little ones make, be selective if you have to but don’t throw sentimentality out altogether.  If this has been tossed, I wouldn’t have remembered that I used to like to make up stories – especially since I tell people all the time I suck at fiction.  Maybe that’s not really the case. And maybe after reading the story you will remember that it’s not always the Butler who did it.

Who Dunnit’? (* Yes I really did use all of those exclamation points)

It all started on a stormy night in a big, spooky house. I was spending the night with my best friends who were sisters. Their mother was having company that night. Everything was going fine that night until SNAP, CRACKLE, POP “What was that!” I exclaimed “And don’t tell me someone’s eating Rice Krispies.” “Oh It’s just lightning said Mi-Mi . “Just lightning, said Fi-Fi, who was hiding behind a lounge chair “Easy for you to say”.  Just then the lights went out. “Oh….oh great, the lights are out! “I’ll go put another fuse in the fuse box.”  That was Gretchen the maid. “Hey listen, while were in the dark let’s tell a Ghost Story” screeched fi-Fi.  Mi-Mi, and I agreed. “Once upon a high hill stood a really, really spooky castle. Every night the people who lived there heard screams that sounded like……Aaaaaghh! “Hey that was Gretchen! Something’s wrong!!!!” They rushed down to the study, only to find a half ring of people surrounding Gretchen, on the floor! The man stooping over her looked up and said “she’s dead.”

That night in the study, everyone discussed the death.  ‘Now everyone calm down, we must find out who did this, now let’s see was it the Butler, the chef, one of the guests…….” “No it was me!” Startled everyone turned around “No over here in the corner”  “In the corner?” I exclaimed “Why there’s nothing over there but a chair, a TV, a stereo, a dog….a dog!!!!!!!* It was you all long, but why?” “Why? I’ll tell you why. All these years that Gretchen mistreated me.” “What do you mean?” “All the other dogs in the neighborhood were eating Kibbles and bits, Gains burgers and Snausages in their own Bow Wow Kingdom. But me I was in the dog slum eating leftover broccoli and liver, not to mention the few chicken bones. Now I’ll kill all of you!” He pulled out a dagger and aimed it at us. Little did he know the dog catchers were on their way.  He bounded at us but missed and fell out the window.  Then Fi-Fi pulled out a can of whipped cream and sprayed it on the dog like a beard. She started screaming “Mad dog” when the dog catchers pulled up. They put paw cuffs on him and rode off.  After that the family never bought a dog again and took to bird watching.

The End