Scenes from a garage sale


Imagine someone you love and trust goes through your things while you’re sleeping. This person paws your things looking at them not with the sentimental look of adoration you would, but with a cold, critical eye. This person sees only the scuffmarks and tears, not the memories of the past and the potential for the future.

Once through your things, this loved one goes back, gathers up what he/she wants and takes it away. Sure you don’t realize immediately what things are gone—your grandfather’s pocket watch, that DVD that you love but haven’t watched in months, that sweater that makes you look like you have breasts or that you are 10 lbs. thinner, or both—you don’t realize they are gone but you loved those things, and you will be heartbroken when their absence registers.

Now, still oblivious to the betrayal, you join your loved one for what you think will just be a fun day out at a friend’s house, but you are wrong. Instead, you are forced to watch strangers buy your things and carry them out of your sight. You are powerless to stop any of it. You feel as though parts of you are being ripped away.

That’s what Friday must have been like for Emily, except that the things I took to sell included unused baby toys, torn pop-up tents, and rarely watched Blue’s Clues videos that might cause ADHD.

Nonetheless, her gut wrenching screams of, “That’s my stuff! They cannot have it! THAT’S! NOT! FOR! SALE!” echoed throughout Belmond this weekend as though I were selling off her body parts. Despite my best efforts to quiet her she pled with me, breathless and panicked, “Mommy… get that back. Please, I need it. I play with it all the time. Please, please, please Mommy.” She tried to force herself from my arms to chase down the shoppers like they were her family going in another line at Auschwitz, hands reaching out, tears streaming.

It is only because Emily treats every event lately like she is being carried off to a death camp that I can watch her act like this and continue doing whatever thing it is that is causing her heartbreak. So, I held her with one hand and sold her things with the other, and soon she was over it enough to eat donuts and play with the other kids.

I did, however, notice last night when we were with my in-laws and they asked her about the sale that she had this weird sort of expression on her face that reminded me of the one that my brother used to get after he’d been removed from a situation, spanked for misbehaving, and retuned. It was this look like something awful had happened to her and she had accepted it but that it was maybe even worse that the adults in her life could sit around talking about her assault like it was okay, that really bothered her. Or maybe she was just tired and I’m not as over it as I thought I was.

Had I really done this awful thing to her? I would feel an awful betrayal if Eric sold my things. Does it seem weird to anyone that we do things to our kids that we wouldn’t want done to us? Would absolutely everything I do as a parent seem this strange if I over thought it this much?

This was my first garage sale experience as a mom (having one that is) and my child was the only one out of all the families there that had a problem with it, so this time I’ll chalk it up to tired child and even-more-tired-mom. Because, despite Emily’s best efforts I sold her things, and mine too, and the sale was a success.

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1 Comment

  1. Hi, Kate — for what it’s worth, the last time we participated in a garage sale I told George that we’d use the money from the sale to buy some little plastic knights he was coveting. He liked the idea and helped pick out stuff to sell, and went a long with almost all of my suggestions. Best of all, the knights (two, with two horses and two monsters for them to fight) are MUCH, MUCH smaller than the things we sold.