Krissy Cabeen

Who Has Time for Useless?

As a general rule, I don’t have things in my house that aren’t used.  Clothes, no matter how great, get donated if they aren’t worn. Bizarre, elaborate kitchen utensils that are more trouble to store and clean than they’re worth don’t stay long. I don’t have furniture that can’t be sat on, or dishes tucked away in case one day the President of the United States joins us for dinner.

I sort of despise untouchable things. Things saved for “special occasions” that usually never come. Hoarded treasures, un-played instruments, unused rooms. What’s the point? Is there any bigger waste than when things get in the way of living.

There’s a difference between using and abusing, a bigger difference between caring for and over protecting, and it’s not a big leap from over protecting to making something useless. We barely use it, or never use it, then it gets put safely away. And then what?

Then it’s useless.

This line of thought started with a rug. A beautiful rug I wanted to put in my office (which is supposed to be a dining room). The rug was to be the centerpiece of the room and no doubt, the key to tripling my productivity. Also, it was the most money I’d ever considered spending on a rug in my life. I almost (almost) couldn’t get past the price, but in the end, I managed.

When it was time to order, though, I started having nervous sweats. Like I said, my office is supposed to be the dining room. It’s at the center of life in our house, situated between the kids’ playroom (which is supposed to be a formal living room) and the kitchen. I imagined all the horrors awaiting my beautiful rug. Ground in Cheeze-Its, wayward chocolate milk, dog vomit, muddy shoes, crayons, markers, and glue sticks. Oh my.

But I had my heart set on it. It felt like the room could not be without it, so I considered having doors put in between the playroom and office.  Doors that locked and were made of unbreakable, maybe even sound proof glass. It turns out such magnificent doors are quite expensive, so next I thought I’d start training the kids to go the other way, through the entryway and back hall to get to the kitchen. This re-routing would effectively turn my office into an off-limits area by eliminating it as the cut through.

Yes, yes, that had possibility.

Or, or, better yet, I could spend every minute of my waking life standing in the room on guard, head swiveling frantically from kitchen door to playroom door just to make sure no person (or canine) ever got near the fibers of my beautiful rug.

That’s when I realized what the rug was really going to cost me.

I would lose the carefree-ness of sending the kids to playroom. I’d constantly be wondering if they’d wandered into the office, if they’d walked through the office and God-forbid, over the rug.  What if they hadn’t taken their shoes off at the door and were tracking who-knows-what across it? What if Winston the Weiner Dog, who is apparently physiologically unable to vomit on hardwood floors, stopped vomiting on the kitchen rug and made my new, light-colored, most expensive rug I ever bought his favorite spot to vomit?

The endless possibilities for destruction were more than I could bear.

I didn’t buy the rug and here’s why.

For the first few weeks, I would have been overly intense about guarding it. I would have spent a significant amount of my time and energy making sure the kids knew how important the rug was to me, that they knew not to touch it or draw on it, or perhaps, not even look at it unless they absolutely could not help it. I would make a huge effort to be patient and explain all of this so they understood. Then anytime they were quiet in the playroom, I would panic and run in to be sure they weren’t touching it.

After a few weeks I’d be too lazy to keep up the patient explaining or maintain the level of commitment necessary to actually walk into the room and check on them, so the situation would deteriorate into me yelling at random times from all over the house, “Don’t mess on Mommy’s rug!” “You guys aren’t coloring on Mommy’s rug are you?”  “Please remember to stay off Mommy’s rug.”

And, when the inevitable happened and the rug was stained or marked on, I would have yelled at them for not listening, for being disrespectful, for ruining Mommy’s nice things, for being careless and selfish and irresponsible. They’re five and six years old and I would have made them feel terrible– over a rug.

For a period of time, I seriously considered altering the way of life in my home to accommodate a rug.

What the hell is wrong with me?

Thank God, I realized things are really only worth what we think they’re worth, and that rug, no matter how beautiful, was going to cost me a lot more than money. Like a lot of time and energy and fighting with my kids that it wasn’t worth. Maybe when the kids are a little older I’ll be able to track it down on sale somewhere. Or maybe not. Who cares?

I’m only going to get so many precious minutes of time with my kids when they actually want to play with me.

I’m not going to waste even one of them on a rug.


Image Credit: do not touch sign https://flic.kr/p/9wKyyQ by Taro the Shiba Inu license https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

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