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When mom throws away your childhood

I’m still stewing over dad ditching my orange Barbie camper, with the attached pop-out tent and the groovy pink clouds painted on the side. 

And my mom is not totally forgiven just yet for getting rid of all my prom dresses. (You never know when lacy, prairie-style Gunne Sax gowns will pop back in style.)

So I thought I would feel some solidarity with basketball star Kobe Bryant when I read recently that he’s in a court fight to try to keep his mom from auctioning off mementos from his high school days and his early years with the L.A. Lakers. 

We’re talking about jerseys, varsity letters, trophies and rings – all those things you treasure, but not enough to clutter up your own attic. 

Pamela Bryant, Kobe’s mother, says she’s been pestering him for years to come get his junk, which an auction house has valued at $1.5 million. (Context: That’s about 150,000 Barbie campers.)

How long should we expect our parents to hang onto our childhood souvenirs before they’re allowed to decrapify their homes? Is there a statute of limitations that offers protection for parents who respond honestly when asked, “Mom, have you seen Bobo, my beloved stuffed unicorn?”

The more I read about this case, the more I find myself siding with Kobe’s mom.

Maybe she’s being greedy. Maybe she has an ax to grind with her famous son.

Maybe she’s tired of being treated like a U-Haul storage unit. 

The guy is 34 years old. His $27.8 million salary reportedly makes him the highest paid player in the NBA. He could buy a house with a room for each of the 42 items his mom wants to sell.

Yet he (and most of us) expect our parents to preserve these remnants of our youth because we want them perpetually worshipping at the altar of us. Every lock of hair, every comic book should be salvaged as proof that we remain the center of their universe. 

How can eBay or a Sunday garage sale put a price on that?

Now that I find myself on the other side of the equation, selectively weeding through the mountains of forgotten toys and keepsakes in my daughters’ rooms, I know exactly what I’m going to say if one of them starts sputtering about some treasure that was trashed long ago.

I’m going to tell her grandma threw it out.