Collections should be bursting down doorways. Aren’t we all just looking for the next new and shiny object?
Power Ranger Figurines and iPhones aren’t all that different.
This seemingly insatiable need for novelty is a characteristic of the times in which we are raising our kids.
As for the insane amounts of plastic toys that follow kids home from birthday parties and fast food restaurants …I know one family that honors the collection, but keeps it limited.
For one of their children, the objects are meaningless and quickly go missing or broken, but the novelty of getting that trinket is like crack. The other child has a strong connection to each and every item. He knows where he got it, the circumstances of it, the entire narrative. This is a meaningful collection for him.
Mom uses a bin with a lid … as long as his collection fits in the bin, he can keep it.
Some collectors have something deeper going on.
A collection can serve as an anchor to something significant, a fascinating discovery, a memory that they want to keep.
For example, one “collector” friend of mine brings home little bits of nature that she discovers on her walk home from school. Her nature collection is filled with rocks, twigs and acorns. She is keenly aware of each twig, marveling at their unique shapes. Every twig has a story. The leaves in this collection have it rough. Once lovely, colorful, pliable symbols of life, they are now crumbled bits and dust settled at the bottom of her treasured Nature Collection.
A grown-up may see 15 identical twigs and an inch of dust. For this little girl, I imagine her thoughts:
How amazing is this planet?
How beautiful are these treasures of nature?
Wasn’t that a beautiful walk home?
New, fresh eyes seeing the creativity of nature.
By all means, please hold on to that amazement with an artifact!
Another collector I know was adopted at age 3. In his new home he had a toy shopping cart. For weeks after he came home, he filled that cart with all the toys and objects that he had interacted with that day, a stuffed penguin, a toy hammer, his photo, the book he read with his mom, a coloring book that he was working on. A few times a day he carefully took things out of his shopping cart, lined them up, looked at them, and dutifully loaded them back into the cart. How clever! This little guy, with no possessions up to that point in his life, now had a massive collection to push with him all day and parked next to him at night. He found a simple way to gain some control in his confusion and secure his belongings. His parents observed that the more comfortable he felt in his environment, the more often he would leave the cart behind. Eventually he could relax in the knowledge that if he needed the toy hammer, it would still be in his room where he last played with it.
Whatever is behind your child’s desire to collect, know that it is an easy way into a conversation.
Ask them about what they collect. Their eyes will light up as they explain each and every item.
Really! Each and every item!
There may be a quiz at the end, wherein you may need to recall the story of how those two twigs came to be part of your daughter’s elite, hand-selected collection.
Enjoy the conversation; revel in seeing that passion in your child’s eyes and remember your own childhood treasures!