If I had a Nickel

Most of the time, I find that being a scavenger is empowering.

There you are, walking down the street, and you aspy something on the ground. A pile of clothes, the detritus of someone’s cleaning spree. Picking through, you find a sweater in that “boyfriend/old man” style that is so Le Urban Outfitters right now. Further more, it’s dark plum. And your size. And almost brand new. GROUNDSCORE! Utterly impossible to not feel just the tiniest bit lucky.

Or two days after you have a conversation about something you really need but can’t afford with your significant other, and lo and behold! Not only do they find it on freecycle, but their email is the first in line! Its yours!

Empowering because it affirms belief in a perspective of abundance (as opposed to scarcity). Empowering because you suddenly feel in the flow of things, synchronicity popping into your life like a little gnome. Empowering because you haven’t a dollar to your name in a world that equates money with power, and in that moment, it just doesn’t matter. There’s something bigger going on here. Plus, it also bucks up a commitment to living simply, to not consuming, to not buying new plastic…which can often (when that trust is gone and GEEZ it would just be easier to go to Target) feel like you just hammered nails into your shoes for no reason.

It is also empowering within our family, as we emphasize toys that encourage creative play, toys that have beauty and usefulness, and can be created or found, rather than bought. This weekend however, I lost sight of this perspective while visiting a relative in Grass Valley. They have a lovely home I would quite enjoy, on 7 acres that butts up against 280 acres of undeveloped terrain. Inside, they have carefully purchased wonderful toys for their one year old son. Some of these toys include high quality children’s percussion instruments. Fern and her cousins had a wonderful time in the play area, and her intrigue with the big drum and its padded mallet did not escape my attention. It also didn’t escape the attention of my inner Doubting Tanya. Nor the notice of Scarcity Sally or Futility Frances. I thought of Fern’s sparse toys at home, her bowls of stones and pine-cones and hand-me-down, handcrafted, thrifted toys and I felt…embarrassed. Sad. Inadequate.

The stream of emotions turned and shifted and trickled through over the day, and while I did not remain embarrassed for long, that sense of inadequacy still dogged me into the next day. I put out a silent plea to the Lords of Thrift to help me find, somehow, a nice used drum for Fern.

I didn’t have to wait long. From the sunroom it came. Boom. Bap bap ba boom boom. Boom. Ba boom boom.

Fern was playing with a large tin I had rescued from the top of a recycling bin. One of those holiday danish cookie tins, probably from Cost Co. At the time I noticed that it had a nice sound, and thought it would make good storage, or maybe a craft project. It had been sitting under her toy shelf, unnoticed. Until now.

We brought it into the kitchen with our popcorn snack. She alternated between playing it and feeding the deer on the lid.
Yup. You know the kind of tin I mean.
It really does have a nice sound, like a cross between a frame and a snare.
We didn't have any dowels handy, so I took her favorite wooden spoon and turned it into a mallet, using some scrap linen, cotton stuffing and yarn.
Experimenting with different ways of holding the mallet.
We keep the drum out in the middle of the floor and she has been playing it multiple times a day, only taking breaks to creep up close and personal for booble.

So I guess we really *are* doing ok. Still, wouldn’t mind a house on 7 acres. Scavenger angels, Lords of Thrift and Groundscore Gods…you can help me out with that, right?

Ask and ye shall receive.


5 thoughts on “If I had a Nickel

  1. So Fern has learned “the Secret” already. Well done Fern! It’s nice to see it’s working for you. Remember if a negative thought shows up, kick it to the curb and think of something that makes you smile.

  2. This is how we raise children who can be creative and solve really complex problems. I love and admire you and can’t wait for you to write your book! You know, the one that’s going to change motherhood in the US forever, and re-enliven the economy and imagination simultaneously…. and then you’ll be like, “7 acres, with a recycled castle, mmmhmm”. xxx A.

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