One of the projects I've taken on for the summer is to clean out the kids room and make their small, shared space more livable for them. We've had a lot of headaches with our little rental here in Berkeley, but have recently been inspired to stick with it and make the best of it.
Unfortunately, our children's possessions amass to more than the rest of our household goods combined, so the first thing I've done in this process is to weed out a ton of their things and prepare for a garage sale. I'm nearing the finish line: I've tackled books, toys, games, legos, stuffed animals, school portfolios, clothes, furniture, but one of the things I saved for last was the art stuff... ugh! So many cut up papers, crumpled stickers, markers with no lids, paints, painting accouterments, paint pencils, paint crayons, tape, glue, rulers galore, erasers, sharpeners, stencils, folders, envelopes, miscellaneous bobbles and whose-its and what-nots, tons of highlighters, pens, sharpies, and crayons! Lots of crayons; broken crayons, cheap crayons, melted crayons, fat crayons, skinny crayons. You get the idea, right? It was a mess!
I made an executive decision to just throw away all the broken, fat, or melted crayons. That whittled down the supply considerably. Pleased, I moved on to the metal tin of crayons I brought back from my grandmas' house. I thought I would do the same thing with her box of crayons and then combine the two batches--hers and ours.
But... I opened the metal tin of crayons and that familiar smell of wax and paper wafted out. I looked at the nubs of crayons: fat crayons, skinny crayons, crayons with the paper torn down, melted crayons. It was a box of old crayons--really old crayons. They were just crayons, right? But, I felt so stupid, sitting their staring at those crayon pieces, feeling teary and unable to bring myself to throw away a mere piece of crayon that had so long been bumping around inside that box that it looked black, even though it clearly said "blue-violet" on the side of it. I remembered that crayon. I remember coloring in my grandfather's wood-paneled, book-filled den where the crayons were kept on the bottom shelf of the bookshelf. I remember being fooled by that blue-violet crayon many, many times as a child; thinking it was black when it was really purple. Over time, I got wise to that box of crayons and always closely inspected them and tested them before defiling my page of coloring with them.
With memories swirling around in my head, I slowly drug my fingers through the box of crayons, thinking how ridiculous it was that I could care so much about a bunch of stupid wax when I noticed something: the font on these crayons was great. Stark, clear, strong. And there was something else. They had the words: "CRAYOLA, Binney & Smith Inc. New York" written on all of them. I checked our box of newer crayons and they simply said "Crayola.com". Lame. My grandma's crayons are old, people. I don't know how old, but they are the same ones I was using 25 years ago at least...probably longer. I don't know how she did it, but my grandmother must have bought crayons once and they just lasted forever. There are crayon colors in that tin that Crayola has since discontinued. I don't know if these crayons have any monetary value, but that doesn't really matter to me. I just... couldn't be practical with these crayons from my childhood, so I didn't combine them with our other crayons. I took out a few crayons that were from Kmart, but other than that, I just put the lid back on and sat staring for a while longer. Sometimes I hate how time keeps marching on like a terrible drill sergeant and you can't go back. But there's something nice about having a box of stupid old wax to remind you of precious time gone by...