The Saturday Bag

Mom got tired of her two children leaving their toys and belongings all over the house, and so she came up with the idea of the Saturday Bag. Mom explained how the Saturday Bag was going to work: If Jean or I left something around the house, she would pick it up and put it in a brown paper bag high up on the top shelf of the closet in the kitchen, where we could not reach it. On Saturday morning, she would bring down the Saturday Bag from its high shelf, open it up, and Jean and I could get back anything of ours that was in it.

Jean and I asked questions about how this was going to work. Would we really have to wait until Saturday morning to retrieve our belongings? Yes, said Mom calmly, we would. But what if we forgot, and left something in the kitchen? Mom said, then it will go into the Saturday Bag. And we won’t be able to get it until the next Saturday? That’s right, said Mom. What if we leave something out that’s too big to go inside the Saturday Bag? Then, said Mom, it will just go up on the top shelf next to the Saturday Bag.

This Saturday Bag idea worried me. I pretty much knew that sometime during the week I would forget and leave a favorite toy where it didn’t belong, and Mom would put it in the Saturday Bag. And of course I did leave things out, and they promptly went into the Saturday Bag. I have a vague memory of saying, Mom, I can’t find something-or-other — and Mom telling me that it was in the Saturday Bag. I have a distinct memory of looking up at the high closet shelf where the Saturday Bag was, knowing that some of my things were up there, in the Saturday Bag, where I couldn’t get them back until Saturday.

I was only about five years old, and so it seemed like it took forever for Saturday to arrive. It was a bright sunny morning. After breakfast, Mom reached up and took down the Saturday Bag. At last I had my toys back! But I knew, I just knew that it would all happen again in the coming week: once again I would forget and leave something out, and Mom would pick it up, and put it in the Saturday Bag.

I don’t think Mom kept the Saturday Bag idea going on for very long. Or maybe it went on for years, but I don’t remember it after the first few months because I got good at putting my toys and belongings away. Kindergarteners can be trained to put things away, and my mother had been a kindergarten teacher for a decade before she got married; if anyone could train a five year old boy and a seven year old girl, it was my mother.