Tuesday, June 21, 2011

R.I.P. Triscuit

The birth of Triscuit the dinosaur was a labor of love.  Andrew was just a little guy in preschool.  His teachers introduced a project where they would learn about recycling -- using old boxes, toilet paper rolls, paper towel rolls, scrap paper, and other "trash" to make something new.  No doubt this project required much planning and effort from the classroom teachers.  But the result was a marvelous creation: Andrew's very own dinosaur fashioned out of a Triscuit box.

Andrew and Triscuit were fast friends.  A T-rex, Triscuit was strong and fierce.  He had sharp teeth and a scary, screeching yell.  When we saw Andrew with Triscuit, we would hide, or dash out of the way to avoid biting or worse injury.  Creativity and imagination blossomed in the games that ensued with this paper and cardboard plaything.  

Andrew had a connection, a relationship, with Triscuit.  The problem with Triscuit is that, after a while, he aged.  The tacky glue and tape didn't hold as well as in the beginning.  His tail was torn off.  To Andrew, he was the same old Triscuit, up for adventure and fighting and eating.  But to me, he was looking more and more like a piece of trash.  Gone was the first love and initial pride that I have for most of Andrew's school artwork.  Triscuit was taking up prime living space in our house; something had to be done.  

Following a friend's parenting advice, I took a few pictures and some video of the falling-apart dino, and threw him in the kitchen trash, burying him under some soggy paper towels and other nasty objects requiring the same resting place.  As other new toys and artwork arrived at our home, Andrew quickly forgot about his toy, until one day several weeks later when he was looking at pictures on my ipod and spotted his beloved Triscuit.

I failed to realize how devastating my act would be to my son.  Even though most people would view the dinosaur as a piece of trash -- for truly, that's what he was -- it was as if he was alive to Andrew.  At one time, he has been a real friend.  Our descriptions of the pathway of trash from can to garbage truck to landfill only worsened Andrew's sorrow.  He was determined to find and rescue his friend.  He was grieving a loss.  Surprised by his sensitive response, I felt totally unequipped to comfort him.  I never meant to cause him pain.

Perhaps this loss mirrors that which I feel when I give away my kids' old clothes and toys.  Even if these items aren't of much value to others, to me, they hold meaning.  They mark a time in my life in relationship with my children, a time that I can't take back or do over again.  They remind me of ways that we've grown or changed.  Sometimes, a toy brings to mind a specific memory, a time of play that resulted in a significant teaching moment or full-belly laughter.  Learning to cling to the precious memories, while letting go of the stuff, creates room for new avenues for growth -- new play, new possibility, new change, new life -- and even additional shelf space for the next recycled trash creation.

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