As part of the kids’ Christmas presents, we told them that we would redecorate their rooms. There wasn’t anything wrong with them, except that they were the neutral palates we moved in to, and we wanted them to have spaces that they felt were their own. They picked out their own colors, and then we told them that they could pick a theme for some of the decorations, which included calendars, pictures, and a book holding sling. M picked army, K picked Angelina Ballerina. She’d fallen in love with Angelina after her grandma brought home some Angelina Ballerina books from the library.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of Angelina Ballerina decorations available. My heart went out to her, who wanted pictures on her wall so badly. So I went to Michael’s, bought three medium canvases and paint, and settled into a couple weeks of painstakingly tracing and painting pictures. She sat at my side, watching me change the blank slates into three scenes of her choosing, and was overjoyed to have Angelina dancing on her wall.
Then we saw “Tangled.”
It’s rare that we take the kids to the movies–only once before, actually–but one rainy Saturday we decided they deserved a treat. M endured it with the patience of a brother who is used to, well, enduring things like Angelina Ballerina. K sat enthralled. “What was your favorite part?” we asked as we left the theater. “Everything!” she gushed. And from that moment on, Rapunzel replaced Angelina.
I waited for the phase to pass. K turned her Angelina dancing ribbon into long “hair” and began asking for Tangled books at the library. Then we were in Target one day and she spotted Tangled sheets. “Mommy, can I have a Tangled room for my birthday?” “We just decorated your room,” I told her. “Angelina, remember? You love Angelina!” K wrinkled her nose. “Well,” I tried in my best reverse psychology, “I guess I should just give away those Angelina pictures to someone else.”
“Yes,” she said cheerfully. And my heart sank.
It’s the nature of parenting. Kids outgrow beloved things all the time–the blankie they couldn’t live without, the yogurt they wouldn’t stop eating, the book they think is so funny. As a nostalgic person, I have trouble seeing those things left behind. I understand they’re just things, that I should and do also rejoice as they discover new interests and develop into the person God is crafting, but at the same time, they also represent moments of our lives passing. It’s not about the pictures–it’s about the time we spent crafting them, the closeness we experienced, forgotten in the shine of something new. That something is wonderful, surely, and I share in that too. But I feel sometimes like I’m collecting those castoffs in my heart, placing them on a special shelf where they might know they still matter to someone. And maybe that’s just one of the tough tasks parents are meant to do. On the plus side, I’ll have a lot to keep me entertained in my golden years.