Laura on Life

Beware of kids

By Laura Snyder

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[March 27, 2010]  Though the economy is still deciding what to do, we are going to attempt to sell our house again. The plan was to stay for five or six years and then resell it. It seemed like a good investment. Thirteen years later, we're still here.

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 everywhere.

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 bush.

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.

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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 malfunction.

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.


Laura Snyder is a nationally syndicated columnist, author and speaker. You can reach her at lsnyder@lauraonlife.com or visit www.lauraonlife.com for more info.

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