My Child Likes To Collect Things (Which would be fine if clutter didn’t make me anxious…)

Kids collecting things

My 7-year-old daughter likes to collect things, and preserving memories of everything memorable has become her passion that she gradually brought to perfection.

Sticks. Rocks. Feathers. Empty snail shells. Strands of horse tail hair. Dead bugs or at least parts of their lifeless bodies. Popped balloons. Broken arrows. Wilted flowers. Piles of notes scribbled in cute loopy handwriting. Parts of missing toys. Broken parts of missing toys. Broken parts of broken missing toys.

EVERYTHING is ever so special to her.

Collecting things is a natural part of child development, right?

But it sure makes me wonder… Maybe the adult hoarders started just like this?!?

I’ve tried explaining. It works. Sometimes. But it’s just much easier to make things disappear.

Quite frankly, I’m tired of negotiating the departure of every single little trinket that collects dust and sits abandoned for an eternity until it ends up in the trash and suddenly becomes unavailable.

I agree that it’s probably not a good idea to throw stuff away behind your child’s back. Not that it works, anyway. 

I’ve successfully smuggled the unworthy possessions across the border of her room in the darkness of the night a few times, only to wake up the next day to a pair of accusing eyes and “Why are my SPECIAL [broken] crayons and my SPECIAL [dried out] markers I keep in daddy’s SPECIAL blue [old shoe] box in the trash? And why were the SPECIAL pretty pictures I drew for YOU in the recycling bin?!”

Laying on the MOMMY GUILT… “Um, I don’t know, honey. Let me see…”

And sure enough… 

A neatly organized pile of I-will-never-part-with SPECIAL items that have resurfaced from the trash to see the daylight again, sitting on my clean coffee table, already sorted out and ready to be returned into their designated SPECIAL places.

So I brought it to perfection.

Apparently, it doesn’t matter how well you conceal the purged items in the trash can, or how clever you think you are when you’re sliding a stash of art projects to the bottom of the recycling bin.

It turns out that kids are clever little things, and they don’t like getting outsmarted.

I quickly realized that in order to avoid an impending search-and-rescue, the key was to remove all evidence. The only way to a clutter-free home was to go the extra mile (OK about 20 feet) and straight to the outside garbage can.  

The fault in that plan was her wicked memory.

“Um, Mommy, do you know what happened to the [dead] lady bug I had in my special place in the middle white drawer under my bed next to the sticks that are missing? And where is my fuzzy rock???”

In my defense, the FUZZY ROCK was a piece of rock smuggled into the house without my knowledge that seemed to have an egg sack on it holding who knows what, looking pretty ripe and ready to burst at any given moment.

I found it laying on the floor by the front door, and I swore I could see movement. But I’ll have you know I’m not a mass murderer and it didn’t end up in a landfill. It was gently placed outside the back door. Or thrown as far away as possible from the back door, hopefully all the way to the neighbor’s yard. I don’t remember. 

For the rest, I have no excuse. Actually, the dusty crumbling lady bug corpse got caught up in my dust cloth sleeve and was inevitably destroyed.

I get it though.

Kids have this amazing ability to see ordinary objects as extraordinary wonders, right? They’re present in a world of their own that’s full of bright colors, familiar and brand new smells, different textures, unique perceptions, and intuitive connections. It’s a world that they’re comfortable in and one that they seem to have control over.

I guess I’m gonna have to get used to clutter. After all, I had the coolest collections of stuff when I was a kid…  

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