Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Contrary to the picture and the title, today's post isn't about little mermaids (no offense Ariel...I still love you)...but about collecting...or to be more exact...toddler/preschooler "collector" tendencies and what happens when it gets a little out of control.
I dare anyone who has (or once had) kids between the ages 2 and 4 to look me in the eye and tell me that they don't have at least one collector in the family. SweetPea is our resident collector. She has an extensive stash of small, metal lunch boxes that she likes to carry around the house, randomly picking up trinkets and stowing them away. At some point in the collection process, I'll hear a squeal and a loud "I can't do it!"...which means the lunch box du jour has reached...nay...exceeded...it's maximum capacity, so much so that she can't latch it closed. Her favorite lunch box is the white princess one in the middle with the cool beaded handle. 99% of the time it's the only one that is always full and usually contains the same collection of stuff (give or take a few things that occasionally get added and subtracted) a plastic cricket, a plastic spider, a plastic ant, two rubber lizards, two small fish finger puppets, a smooth, white rock about the size of her palm, a My Little Pony comb, a monster motorcycle, a huge fake ring that used to have a flashy light in it, a small Tigger figurine, a bangle bracelet and three small plastic Easter decorator picks that once upon a time came out of some Easter cupcakes. What do they all have in common...you've got me...but it's the one container I'm forbidden to empty. She calls it her "box of jewels" and it's her most prized treasure. For whatever reason, I AM allowed to relocate her other stashes and put things back where they belong...and I do from time to time, just so I can avoid the "Mommy, where is my flashlight cow?" questions and the mad search around the house looking for "lost" toys that are actually safely hidden in lunch boxes...as aforementioned cow happens to be right now... in the Bambi lunch box.
OK, so at what point can collecting go bad? Well, my dear friend, Gina recently found out... the hard way (and G...if I get any of the details wrong, feel free to slap me). Her son, Nicky, is the same age as SweetPea and likes to stash all sorts of things from around the house into the backpack that he takes to the babysitter's everyday. One day, when Gina and I were catching up (translation: I hounded her at work for 3 days in a row before she finally sat down long enough to have a conversation with me...no guilt here, though), she asked me if SweetPea liked to collect stuff...we compared notes...and I assured her that both kids were doing the same thing that lots of kids their age do...or at least I thought so. She goes on to tell me that while she was "unstashing" Nicky's backpack after they got home one evening, she was shocked to find some butter knives and a brand new tube of toothpaste that she knew came from the babysitter's house. What did I do when she told me that? I laughed...hard...REALLY hard...so hard that my high pitched squeals were nearly inaudible and I could barely breathe. When I finally caught my breath, I spit out "Gina...he's not a collector...he's a klepto!" As you can see, I'm a very supportive friend. I admit, the fact that he took things from the sitter wasn't funny...WHAT he decided to take was. Of all of the, I'm certain, MANY interesting things he could have taken from someone else's house, he decided knives and toothpaste were stash worthy. Alas, wayward Nicky was waltzed straight back to the sitter's (who, by the way, was ordered not to laugh either...even though she thought it was funny too) and had to apologize for taking things that didn't belong to him. I'm pretty sure that it won't be happening again any time soon.
I'm not sure there's any moral to this story...I'm just really glad that SweetPea hasn't managed to "collect" anything that doesn't belong to her. I try to impress upon her that it isn't nice to take things that don't belong to us, but I also know that she's three and these concepts aren't always as black and white to them as we think they might be.
Anyone else have any stories of your own little collectors...or maybe of a klepto moment?