So today we started on the brutal task of cleaning out Jackson's room before he goes away to college. He was surprisingly helpful, probably because the alternative was going to Bed Bath and Beyond to order stuff for his dorm room – a death march through the land of tiny weird wastebaskets that any sentient being would eschew. But he was also surprisingly – and touchingly - protective, even sentimental. I got the full body-block when I tried to get near his board games, with him insisting that he loves board games and he didn't want me to touch any of them.
We did ditch Life, which has always struck both of us as one of the world's most depressing games, the seeming message being that you just kind of trudge through your years on the planet and get stuff or not. I guess the winners look like Mitt Romney. Everyone else looks like us. Operation also made it into the Goodwill pile, probably (okay, I'm projecting) because his dad is a surgeon. We also gave the pink slip to an aspirational silk-screening set I bought at a garage sale when he was five. Which he never opened. Whatever Jackson’s interests might end up encompassing, silk-screening is probably not going to be his passion.
He threw away reams of schoolwork, keeping only a couple of literature papers, and got rid of all his old Gameboy-type devices, trophies, and sporting equipment. We were ruthless. My new editor-in-chief boss would be proud; she’s a woman who lives to eliminate the unnecessary.
I, however, feel a little sad, and I think it was hard for Jack too. But it was also really lovely to sit on the stairs and look at a packet of photos he took of churches in France when he was there on an exchange program in fifth grade, and to rifle through the pictures he drew of smiling monsters with large weapons. And to remember, for the first time in years, the summer he spent in Thousand Oaks studying engineering - never once taking off his Amoeba Records hoodie even though it was 105 degrees, because even then he just didn't want to be that engineering guy.
Clearing the deck and getting ready to watch my boy fly off into the rest of his life is wrenching. The medals and trophies lying in the bottom of the garbage bin broke my heart. I know, deeply, because I know him, that his is going to be nothing at all like the game of Life. His is going to be rich, and complicated, and full of joy and satisfaction. Still, it's hard to get rid of the gun that shoots tiny rubber chickens, and the size 6 fencing shoes.