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Why I can’t have nice things

Posted: April 9, 2013 10:35 a.m.
Updated: April 10, 2013 5:00 a.m.

Recently I have learned to really understand the phrase “this is why we can’t have nice things” which I heard all through my childhood but never really understood the significance of. After spilling juice on tablecloths staining them for eternity or somehow managing to ruin the playground set in our backyard, I would always hear my mom -- in a very exasperated tone, I should add -- exclaim: “See! This is why we can’t have nice things!” And being my young and carefree self I would think to myself “it’s not my fault the playground set couldn’t handle us.” But it kind of was my siblings’ and my fault. I don’t think the makers of the playground set created it for kids to see exactly how many people they could fit on a slide or how high we could swing until the stakes came out of the ground. This playground set was created for normal children who slid down the slide one at a time and enjoyed swinging without the fear of collapse. They should really differentiate between playground sets. For example there should be a label that says “this playground set is for children who can calmly and nicely play” while one that would be better suited for my family would read “this playground set is for children whose sole intention seems to be to destroy it.”

As I look at my cellphone screen, which is cracked to the point that sometimes it’s hard to make out what is on it, I realize how right my mother was. Maybe I shouldn’t be allowed to have nice things because I don’t think I have ever had a belonging that I didn’t in some way or another “ruin.” I mean, I look at my nails which I carefully painted but are now chipped and in less than presentable shape because I also didn’t wait an appropriate amount of time for the paint to dry before I regularly used my fingers to text on my cracked phone and type on my unreliable laptop. It seems I have a habit of overuse. Anything I own that I really love becomes immediately depleted in some way or another. I don’t think I own a pair of sandals that are in “good” condition. The soles are either cracked or the straps have been hot glued back in place. My stuffed animal cat that I’ve kept near and dear almost since birth is missing a nose (which is actually my dog’s fault) and has had to undergo stitching more times than I can count to keep his fluffing from disappearing, reducing him to nothing more than a weird somewhat furry rag.

I used to view this characteristic of myself of not being able to keep nice things … well, nice … as a negative, but I have also recently come to realize that maybe it could be a positive thing. There are far worse things in life than being able to say you love or use something too much. I’d rather love and overuse something than kind of like and barely use something. That kind of defeats the purpose of having a “nice” thing. Or even a thing that isn’t that “nice.” Why buy something that you really like but leave it displayed on a shelf, only admiring it from afar? While I do envy those that are somehow able to keep their phone screens completely intact without even using a protective phone covering (do you have some sort of secret power?), I think it could be viewed as a positive thing. The story of the Velveteen Rabbit comes to mind when I think about this and the notion of something not being “real” until it is really loved by someone. I hope that my items that I have rendered to being shabby think of it as a blessing like the toys in the Velveteen Rabbit story did.

I might be making big advances in being able to have nice things, however. I’ve been able to keep the same pair of sunglasses in relatively good condition for more than a year now. And I really love my sunglasses.

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