I really stuck my foot in my mouth today.
When my dear friend was visiting recently, she commented on how nice our house felt, without so much “stuff” in it. I also love the fact that we have so few toys, books, etc here. At least compared to what we are used to in the States.
That said, the lack of organization for the toys, books, and especially art supplies we do have is really starting to get to me. Now that we are staying here for another year, I have been feeling the need for some order. Living as though we are on a permanent vacation is losing its appeal. So I started buying locally made wicker and straw baskets. They are inexpensive, made of natural fibers, and woven by skilled artisans. But round baskets are not the most efficient choice for small spaces.
Stackable plastic containers, on the other hand, are a much better organizing choice but they are super expensive here. I am way too cheap to spend lots of money on something that I will only use for a short while.
You might be wondering by now why am I writing about such domestic minutiae. Well, let me tell you. This is the sticking my foot in my mouth part.
In my desire to organize, I, who truth to tell, am not a natural organizer by nature, turned to somebody in our household who is a fantastic organizer: our housekeeper. I figured that she doesn’t have much money so she probably doesn’t buy expensive plastic containers to organize. “How do you organize the toys in your house?” I asked her.
Our housekeeper looked at me and said “We don’t have this many things in my house. My two girls have a book, a doll , and a coloring book each.”
Boy, did I feel like an idiot! What seemed like a relatively small amount of stuff by my over-consumerist American standards was a lot for somebody who makes $20 per day and lives with in a small house with her parents, six sisters, a few of the sisters’ husbands and a combined total of fifteen children. People in my housekeeper’s economic situation buy whatever they need right now. They buy the food they are going to eat that day, the clothes they need to wear now, the few toys they can afford. They don’t stockpile art supplies for rainy afternoon projects. They don’t get groceries to stock up the pantry so they don’t run out.
These realizations were humbling and embarrassing. I should have known better and I learned my lesson. I guess this is the whole point of living here: to smooth out my elitist American edges.