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, Wyoming
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Mar 30, 2015

Pack Your Bags Kids, We're Going On a Guilt Trip!

Do you want to get back at your kids? Make 'em squirm a little? Do you want to make them pay for growing up and leaving home and not taking all their crap with them? Parents, do you want to have some fun? Well pack your bags, grab their crap because we're going on a guilt trip. (Insert evil laugh here....wahhhaaahaaahaaaaabaahhhahhhahaahaaa) 
Breyer horse number 14,825 of 854,532 Breyer horses left at my house

You may already know how this works. Over the years you've spent a small fortune on things that the little darlins' really wanted and then you blinked, or you fell asleep for one minute and eighteen years went by. There you were; left with an expensive pile of clothes, shoes and toys right there next to the box of priceless memories. You felt lost and sad for months. You went into their rooms and sat on the bed and ran your hands over their pillows, imagined sleepy heads; touched the left behind trophies and pictures. You smelled the clothes left hanging in the closet, opened drawers and re-folded the not-cute-enough-for-college pajamas.  YOU DID THAT!? REALLY?  (*Sound of screeching brakes here*) Sorry I am not that mother. I'm the other one...the one who stripped the bed, boxed up the pj's, trophies and all evidence of teenage existence. Seventy-two hours later there was not a trace of teenage angst anywhere in my house.
Polo gear...circa 1996-2000
It's not that I didn't miss my girls when they moved out, I did, terribly. I just wished they'd have taken all this shit with them when they left. 
     The Know-It-All left home at seventeen to go to college. I won't lie; there were a few tears (of relief). But just because she no longer showed up at the dinner table every night to ask, so what's the sauce du jour tonight? didn't mean she had really left home because most of her crap remained here. I did what any sappy, overly sentimental mother would do...I boxed her shit up, took down the hippie beads, packed up the polo gear and stored everything under the stairs.  
Coat hook circa 1983
When Hates Everything made the move from daddy's spoiled rotten home-schooled-can-chasing- baby to Arizona to go to college, The Big Guy had an anxiety attack as he pulled the life-sized decal of her off of the horse trailer. He held his chest and hyperventilated while I pulled posters of Wrangler clad calf ropers off her bedroom walls. The sound of the door banging, signalling her exit had not even stopped echoing up the stairs when Trevor Brazille fell to the floor. Pink and zebra sheets were stripped from the bed, walls were returned to a color that is found in nature and in the time it takes for paint to dry, you would have never known that a teenager lived in our house, unless of course you looked under the stairs. (Not her....her stuff...I'm not THAT mother!)

Here's some guidelines on how to make this the best guilt trip of their lives: You lay in wait, you don't nag or mention the expensive clothes, the electronics, the tack, the bulletin boards, stuffed animals; all the junk they really wanted but then left behind. Patience momma! (insert evil laugh again!)

The day will come, trust me, when they live in their "own" house and then it's GAME ON! Here's how it works: Each time you go to one of their homes you take one of the tucked away "treasures" and you HIDE it.
Sometimes it's weeks or moths later when I get that phone call saying, Maaaahhhhhhhmm, why'd you leave _____________(insert whatever I left) at my house. I don't want that! This is when you say, what do you mean, I thought you loved that____________ and it probably cost me a lot of dough. Crap returned + overnight guilt trip = triple bonus points. For example: Do you know how hard I had to work to be able to afford those dance lessons and now you tell me you don't want tap shoes? 

Ring: 1997-est $20. Returned 2014 -priceless
Here is a run down of some of my returns and the amount of time it took for them to take the guilt trip.
     I framed The Know-It-All's college diploma and hung it on her wall (3-4 weeks) and yes, that did cost me a fortune.  I stuck an old Indian doll  in a side pocket of her suitcase (3 months); an old ring that some street vendor in Jamaica carved her name on to (9-10 months).
I've returned Hates Everything childhood jewelery box (1 day) trophy buckles (a couple of weeks) a fancy Black Hills gold watch that I gave her for Christmas that she never wore (still hasn't found it).

And the best part is sometimes I give them some of my stuff that I don't want. Seriously! One time I offered them each cutting boards that I hadn't used since the 80's and they turned me down flat; actually one of them said, mom! no, we don't want your old junk from the 80's. It's not gonna hurt my feelings, I just went and hid one in each of their cars. (Hates Everything, 2 years; The Know-It-All,  ???) Hates Everything gave it back to me. She doesn't know it yet but I gave it back to her about 6 months ago. (insert evil laugh again) By now The Know-It-All has surely found it and lost it again, before being able to sneak it back to me. (Double bonus points)                                   
Martha Josey halter, won in 2004, returned February 2015.
So now that they are all grown up "home moaners," I try my best to contribute to the interior design of their grown-up homes, as shown in the photo above. It's a Christmas horse wearing a real horse halter. (Martha Josey Clinic ~ $400 + gas to CO for said clinic $200 + barrel horse for clinic $20,000 - value of halter won at clinic $10 = priceless guilt trip.) 

Sometimes, just for old times sake, I like to leave a slice of pizza in a dresser drawer or silverware and cereal bowls (with milk) in their cars. Or maybe a stuffed animal under their beds (You know they are both looking under their beds right now. Triple points) It's just like the good ole' days, only with less acne and drama.     
Arrow Coat Hanger....laying in wait.

But there is ONE thing in this house from those teenage years that I have not yet found a way to return. The-Know-It-All stapled a poster to her bedroom door in about 1995. When she moved out of this basement bedroom in 2000, Hates Everything moved into it. She moved out in 2006 and the poster remained tacked to the door. Forgotten and left behind by both girls. I walk by it several time each day and everyday I think, I should take it that old thing down, because you know, I'm not that mother. But I never do. I crack open the door and peer into what is now the perfect guest room with en suite bathroom, sans hippie beads. And then I  just go dig in some of the boxes under the stairs and plot my next move.  
 Here's a recipe for a healthy snack that will smack the taste of guilt right out of their mouths. When the girls were little I never fed them healthy snacks except for Twinkies and Pork Rinds, so this a nice little treat that I can take to their house(s) now. Bonus points: if they don't eat them all I can hide them. They will last for several weeks.

PRINT RECIPE : Spicy Fried Chickpeas