I guess you could call this is a kind of Cinderella story of sorts. It is the tale of how a little pink plush monkey was rescued from the bottom of a lowly trash bin. She managed to escape by a monkey’s hair and rose up to the lofty heights of well… from a toys perspective, let’s just say she is no less loved than Buzz Light Year. Today, she proudly hangs from the door of my 16 year old daughter Emily’s bedroom. She has the important job of greeting and sizing up all who enter. Most of the other plush toys lay squashed a box in the back of her closet with numerous other forgotten stuffed toys. Some plushers are not even that lucky, they have been donated or discarded or much worse… passed on to the dog to slobber on and slowly tear into bits. But Las Vegas Monkey has a different story, she is one of the very few stuffed toys that Emily still proudly displays.
Years ago, before I started my organizing career, Las Vegas Monkey arrived into the arms of my two year old Emily. My husband and I took a business trip to Las Vegas and brought back two little plush monkeys as souvenirs for both of our girls. They loved them for awhile, but eventually they were seemingly lost and forgotten among the other multitudes of toys. One day, I was home alone and decided to do a bit of tidying up of the girl’s bedroom. At that time, combined, the girls must have had about 100 stuffed animals. As I rifled through the pile of trinkets and other debris, I came across Las Vegas Monkey. At that time, Emily mostly ignored this monkey (or so I thought) and I noticed that it's arm was broken, it had been pushed into her body making her look like she had only three limbs and I couldn’t pull it back out. I confirmed the toy to be officially broken. So I ask you, why keep a broken stuffed animal when you have 99 not broken ones to play with? I made an executive decision and tossed it into the trash. “Emily won’t even notice that it’s missing” I told myself. BUT, I was wrong...DEAD WRONG.
Poor Las Vegas Monkey laid there, dirty and broken in the bottom of a trash bag. Not much future lay ahead of her and the only worse fate she could imagine is finding herself in the jaws of the slobbering dog. Exactly one day later, while I was cooking supper, my sweet 4 year old came barreling out of her room with a look of terror on her face. “MOMMY!!!” she hollered, ‘Where is my pink monkey??? I can’t find her anywhere; You didn’t throw her away did you?” She asked this question in a “You wouldn’t do a terrible thing like that would you?” voice. With a guilty stare, I nodded sheepishly. Then I quickly tried to redeem myself by explaining logically to her that the monkey was broken and she had 99 other stuffed animals to play with. That excuse did not work even 1 percent. For one thing, it does not work to explain things logically to a hysterical 4 year old. She fell to the ground, seemingly heartbroken. Then she ran to her room to bawl. At that point, I was pretty sure she was never going to talk to me again. So what did I do? Well, I did what any guilty mamma with a heartbroken child would do... I went dumpster diving.
Fortunately for me, the trash had not yet been picked up. Unfortunately though, I had to search through every trash bag in the dumpster before I found Las Vegas Monkey. I finally found her at the bottom of a trash bag, at the bottom of the dumpster. She was wet and dirty and stinky, and so was I, but I felt victorious just the same. She went into the washing machine, Emily’s heart was mended, and I was forgiven...mostly.
Over the years, Emily has grown very fond of her little monkey, perhaps because she came so close to losing her, or, I like to muse that is because her mommy braved rotten food to rescue her. To this day though, it is not the dramatic rescue or the fact that the monkey was at the bottom of everything that Emily recalls. Nor does she remember how dirty and stinky I got. No, she only reminds me of how horribly wrong it was to toss her monkey into the trash in the first place. It took her along time to trust me again, and just to make me feel even worse, my husband, who is much handier than me at fixing things, managed to fix the monkey's arm after all. Las Vegas Monkey isn’t even handicapped anymore. So that is why today, she can hang gracefully and honorably from Emily’s bedroom door with both arms intact.
What might not mean much to you may be a treasure to another person, and you do not want to jeopardize your loved one's trust. Many of my clients have heard me tell this amusing story, and they know that I never ever recommend making decisions about what to keep and what to let go of for others. You can at best, put any items in question into a box for them to inspect and approve of before they let them go. Children need to make their own decisions as well…most especially, 4 year old little girls.
Laura is the Owner of Clean & Clutter Free, professional organizing services.