Of course, there are some disadvantages to Corb cleaning out the attic.
"What do you have there?" I asked, ever-so-innocently, as I helped Corb and Theo haul a bunch of boxes full of garbage down the stairs.
Corb glanced down at the box that I held in my hands. "Oh, nothing..." he said. "Just something that hasn't been used in almost five years."
"That's Ashes' E-Z Bake oven," I pointed out.
"Right," he said. "Which she hasn't used or even thought about in five years."
"But it's her E-Z Bake oven," I protested. "You can't throw that out. Besides, how was she supposed to think about it, when you've had it in the dark scary attic for five years?"
"Ted, it's just taking up space. Just ask Ashes, she'll tell you. Believe me, she really doesn't care about it."
"Okay, fine." I move to the front door of our apartment and threw it open. "Ashes, can you come here for a moment?"
Ashes left her santum sanctorum and trudged into the living room, glowering like a cat. "Yes?"
"Corb wants to throw away your E-Z Bake oven," I said, waving the box under her face. "How do you feel about that?"
She stared at the box, dubiously. "I guess."
"So you really don't care?" I asked, trying to pierce her teen spirit. "Let me know if it would make you sad to lose it, and I'll keep it around."
"I want to keep it," she said, and turned around to pad back into her lair.
Corb shook his head in disbelief. "She doesn't care about that E-Z Bake oven. You care about it way more than she does."
It is true that I am a huge sentimentalist, especially when it comes to the kids. Josie took down the kids' playground about two years ago, and I wouldn't speak to her for a week, after that. But it's not just that I want their childhood trapped in amber, I'm the same way about my childhood, too. I still have boxes filled with remnants from my own childhood, things I'll never look at again. And worse than that, things from high school and college, such as old notes, college essays, even used candy boxes taken from the first boy I ever loved.
Let's face it, my kids are doomed. But I think it's a certain power to retaining some scraps of your earlier lives. It keeps that part of you still alive, just a bit. Not for excessively dwelling, either, but simply for remembering. Those who forget the past, after all, are doomed to repeat it. And sometimes, it's just fun to laugh at earlier incantations.
Later that night, when Josie arrived to pick up the kids, Corb dragged her into Ashes' bedroom. "Ted wants you to bring that home," he said, pointing to the oven.
"Oh no, that's not going into my house," said Josie.
We argued the case out in front of her, once again. Ashes just sat on the bed, amused.
"It's not going to my house," said Josie.
"It's not staying here," said Corb.
I finally managed to pursuade Corb, I think, although I had to agree to dispose of the bag of New Yorkers he found in the attic. Oh, and I have to bake him a cookie using the oven, every night. There's just something about a morsel heated by light bulb that gets his mouth watering...