As the school holidays began to draw to a close, there was one task left on our home clean-up 'to do' list – clear out the cubby house.
Let me tell you about the cubby house. The modern day cubby house is generally an expensive, over-engineered structure that takes up a good amount of space in one’s yard. It is my experience that after a flurry of excitement by little people on its arrival Christmas/birthday morning, they won’t get much mileage out of it – especially as they get older and the more seductive electronic past-times kick in. Ours in particular has had peaks of activity, but has been sitting unused for the past year. We have talked about turning it into a chook house, or even a mansion for our rabbits. But finally, we decided it was time to give up on it altogether and sell it on ebay for a pittance. Thus the clean-up.
Our cubby house has been the repository of the previous years’ bedroom clean-ups. In it everything goes that the kids can’t immediately decide whether to throw out or keep. This includes:
- Major school craft projects, including the 1.5 metre Eureka tower complete with Lego trim and glittering gold roof (93% built by dad, 7% by son)
- More than 1000 toilet rolls, collected by us, our neighbours, and my in-laws to support our son's bid to set the Guinness World Record for the most toilet rolls collected. It's official dear supporters - we concede defeat. The longest toilet roll chain was made up of 30,030 rolls (3,605 m long) and strung between the villages of Busswil and Lyss in Switzerland on 30 August 2008.
- Every type of balding and flat ball you can imagine, two squash rackets from mum’s peak fitness flurry circa 1998 and one deformed Frisbee
- Many dozens of dusty, musty books from our children’s early childhood, which they haven’t read in years, but nevertheless can’t bear to add to part with
- One bag of electronic bits and bobs that had been destroyed illicitly by our son some years ago when he had been left to his own devices (complete with sheepish look as he handed them through the window)
- A fascinating array of spiders and other insect life who have made themselves at home in this little oasis.
It was time for a ruthless overhaul. I braced myself emotionally and dragged my son kicking and screaming from the clutches of the Wii. He stood in the cubby house, and I stood outside — with an open rubbish bag or ten. He handed things over. I cajoled. I comforted. I asserted. After a few hours, what remained I hear you ask?
- A dozen of the most soppy children’s books, all of which my son made me read to him through the window, including Guess How Much I Love You. I realised then and there that he is a bigger sentimental fool than even I.
- A grubby but well-loved fluffy unicorn with maximum cuddle value.
- A few balls, a plaque bearing my son’s name, a table and two chairs.
After the spiders and cobwebs had been swept and hosed out, and the table set with pens, paper and a deck of cards, the interiors were ready to be photographed by Vogue.
The neighbour’s kids came over and squeeled in delight at the transformation. They spent the rest of the afternoon playing in there. Now the adults in the house have been told in no uncertain terms that the cubby is here to stay – at the very least until the next time they fill it up with more stuff they can't possibly bear to part with.