The first day of the Summer holidays, and the calm before the storm. Children snooze contemplatively. The dog, freshly walked, oozes breakfast expectation. The traffic rasps by outside. Heaven.
But within hours we will be down to business. First stop, Sainsburys, for a roll of heavy duty dustbin bags. Next, the playroom where-heartless mother that I am – everything must go.
The age of plastic toys has not been a fortunate one for mothers. Gone the beautifully formed tin soldiers, the wooden bobbins, the elaborately crafted dolls houses. And in with the Hot Wheels flexi-track and the outrageously thin n’ curvy bratz. Oh help.
Anyone with Railway-Children-style aspirations of whips-and-tops and intricate model railways is generally forced to ditch them by the two-year-old mark.
Because, Dear Reader, even if you move heaven and earth to prevent the plastic pink fairy revolution and the Powerangers power struggle, there’s always some extravagant granny or well-meaning party guest ready to step into the victorian vacuum you have created.
Now, rather than just one or two parts, most toys have added value: lots of tiny plastic parts to delight the tiny ones. Weenie hair brushes, miniscule cars….designed specifically, it seems, to be lost, discarded and occasionally eaten by child or dog.
My sister relates the legend of the tiny beads that kiddies can arrange into patterns and then iron into a decorative mat. Such a creative toy, prized by little ones: we all have a cup mat somewhere made out of them.
Her dog became partial to the little gems, and now its offerings are spangled with them. Poop-scooping has never been so colourful.
Now our playroom is stuffed with broken, stockpiled plastic toys. Hence the need for dustbin bags, and a Charity Shop box for the nice stuff. I’ll be merciful: a core of favourites will remain: but the knowledge of that graveyard of plastic playthings, up in the eaves of our attic rooms, has weighed heavily on our shoulders.