My kids were still very young the first time we tried to sell. When
kids are living in a house, it has quite a bit more... character...
than a potential buyer might wish. No matter how clean I've tried to
keep it, there are signs of children and their exuberant creativity
Even if he never walked into the house, a potential
buyer would see the dent in my mailbox made by a fly ball and know
this was a house that harbored children. He might spy a few brightly
colored plastic toys that were tossed joyfully into the air and are
now peeking out of my rain gutters. He might even see the various
paraphernalia that a kid needs while building a fort in my juniper
Even if, for some reason, the sun was in the perfect position in
the sky and rendered our potential buyer temporarily blind, he would
be enlightened as soon as he stepped into my home and his vision
cleared. What he thought was a droopy ceiling fan was actually an
athletic sock hanging off the living room lighting fixture. I didn't
think to look up while I was cleaning.
The dirty fingerprints around the door handles would be his
second clue. The multicolored coat rack with high hooks for adults
and low hooks for the munchkins would then almost be expected.
Then he'd walk into the kitchen, where every orange in the fruit
bowl has an emoticon drawn on it in permanent marker. (For you
boomers, an emoticon is a happy face that is not necessarily happy.)
Every banana has also been given "clothes" by way of said marker.
Apparently, my children believe that their fruit must have a
personality before it can be properly consumed.
My plants have inconspicuous Lego people inhabiting their
foliage. They must be doing reconnaissance for the Pyrate set.
Either that, or Lego Indiana Jones has gone back to the jungle. I
liked "Temple of Doom" the best, too.
[to top of second column]
In the den resides a forlorn-looking paper shredder with the
handle of a spatula sticking out the top. When I find out whose
bright idea that was, they are going to be scrubbing toilets for a
month to pay for it. Our potential buyer will most likely conclude
that not only do we have children, but they have some sort of brain
The bedrooms, of course, are the final and most conclusive proof
of progeny, though.
The presence of a twin bed wouldn't necessarily tell the tale,
but the bookshelf full of titles like Dr. Seuss, "Goodnight Moon"
and "Magic Tree House" might. The shelf also contains toys: current
favorites of the child, like demonic-looking Bionicle figures, an
empty piggy bank, an assortment of Hot Wheels cars and a deflated
balloon from his last birthday, nine months ago.
In the girl's room, there would be Disney stickers on the light
switches, stuffed animals on every available horizontal surface and
beads stuck in corners where no broom has gone before.
Our potential buyer will say one of two things: "Wow... We're not
in Kansas anymore, Toto. Let's tell them we're looking for something
they don't have and get out of here!" Or they might say, "There is a
lot of love here. I think we should buy it."
I should simply add a sentence to the promotional flier:
"Families without young children need not waste their time with this
one." That way, at least my cleaning efforts would not be in vain.
[By LAURA SNYDER]
Laura Snyder is a nationally syndicated columnist,
author and speaker. You can reach her at
or visit www.lauraonlife.com
for more info.