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"Let's black-bag it"

When my kids were really little, they hated when we threw out anything of theirs. Didn’t matter if it was a broken toy, a puzzle with three pieces missing, a sock with no mate, or a piece of paper with the tiniest scribble on it. “Are you THROWING THAT OUT?! Nooooooo, don’t! That’s SPECIAL!!!!!!” they would wail.

Of course, we threw stuff out anyway—we just got sneaky about it. And at first, we made a crucial error: We’d discard things in the usual white bags that we use in the kitchen garbage pail. Sometimes at night after they were asleep, I’d make the rounds with a garbage bag, picking up scraps and discards—the fast-food cup that had to come home because it had a princess on it, the 12th finger-painting brought home from preschool that week, the sandal with the broken strap. And the next morning, if I hadn’t had the foresight to bring it out to the garage and put it in a can with a tight-fitting lid, inevitably one of them would see the bag, make a beeline for it, and spot some “treasure” through the translucent white plastic. And the wailing would begin.

This is when we discovered the wisdom of using black garbage bags. They hide everything! And thus, a new phrase entered our lexicon. One of us would be decluttering a closet or something, and the other would wander by and say, “Uh oh—you better black-bag that stuff QUICK.”

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