Collecting or Hoarding?

Dear Blogary,

When does collecting become hoarding? I’ve spent my morning going through a trunk-load of treasures, created by my boys over the past 4 years. I’ve also gone through storage bins and crates full of creations.

Blogary, how many drawings and created treasures done by one’s kids does one keep? I’ve managed to put many of the drawings in the recycling bin, using a ‘no name is on it’ kind of approach. Still, I have two bins (one for each kid) full of items that made the ‘save’ pile.

Joe starts Kindergarten in August, and he will come home with even more creations, drawings, writings, etc. Blogary, how do I determine what to keep? And, why keep it? Is this where the collecting/hoarding habit begins? I know I have at least three bins in the basement full of things I’ve collected over the years. I’m ready to throw all the stuff away, too. I’m just not ready to pull it all out of the closet downstairs.

Blogary, earlier this week I changed the boys’ bed sheets. Putting the sheets on Joe’s bed is a bit challenging. When the bed is made and the pillows are ‘perfectly’ placed, Joe’s bed looks normal. However, if you move the pillows, you will see his menagerie of treasures. And, every night before he goes to bed, he checks his collection, adjusting it as needed.

Much of Joe’s collection consists of stuffed animals, though if you looked through it you’d find a towel, a wooden snake, a note or two, etc. I suspect as he gets older, he won’t be as drawn to the stuffed animals as he is now. But, will he replace the stuffed animals with something else? That remains to be seen. And, Blogary, do I encourage the collecting or discourage the collecting? How much is too much? I suppose I had better check myself, and see what I keep in piles here and there.

Going through the trunk, bins and crates felt good. I collected quite a large quantity of paper for our recycling bin, too. Perhaps next week, I’ll tackle the closet downstairs. Blogary, let’s see if I am all talk, or if I am prepared to let go of what will certainly be memorable treasures.


A Collection of Collections

A veritable plethora of collections

Most everyone collects some thing or another. Some people collect stamps, some collect antique cars and some collect shells. Many people collect many different things, and you wouldn’t be taken aback if someone told you, “I just added the best Simpsons stamp to my stamp collection.” However, you might politely excuse yourself from talking with someone if s/he said, “Today, I found the coolest fingernail to add to my collection!” Actually, if someone were to tell you about their fingernail collection, you might spit out the beverage you were sipping and run away. Fast.

Yes, some collections are better received than other collections. I ended my Bells and Bunnies post mentioning the Tooth Fairy, which made me realize my son is nearing the age where he will begin losing his baby teeth. As I considered my son losing his teeth, I wondered how my husband and I would handle the whole ‘Tooth Fairy” thing. I also wondered if I would keep the baby teeth my boys lose. I vaguely recall coming across a collection of baby teeth in my Mom and Dad’s room. I know the baby books my Mom put together of my siblings and me contained locks of hair.

Collecting and saving baby teeth and locks of baby hair seems a common practice. I have not saved any locks of hair from the boys, and it remains to be seen whether or not I’ll save the boys’ baby teeth. However, I do have the boys’ belly button stubs. (Should I have warned you prior to sharing?) Why do I have a ‘collection’ of belly button stubs? I haven’t a clue why I kept the stubs. Perhaps it is part of the delirium of parenting newborns. Sleepless nights can make for the start of crazy collections. You pregnant Moms out there – consider yourself warned.

I wonder. Will Joe come to me at the age of say – 17 – and say, “Hey Mom! Do you still have my belly button stub? I want to show it to my girlfriend.” One can only assume that the girlfriend would soon become an ex-girlfriend, screaming in horror as she runs out the front door. “That’s odd.” Joe would say, while watching her run away. “My buddy, Jeff, thought it was really cool.” I can only hope that Charlie would be nearby during the ‘belly button stub sharing’ incident, so he wouldn’t make the same mistake with his girlfriend. Then again, he might use it to rid himself of an annoying girlfriend.

Rest assured, two belly button stubs are not the only thing I have collected over the years. I have a collection of glass ornaments from my days working at a glass gallery, and I have a collection of pictures, picture frames and picture magnets. In addition, I have a collection of watches, though none of the watches have working batteries. So please, though I collect watches, don’t assume I will be on time all the time. I also have a collection of single socks with holes in the toe and/or heal. Why I continue to keep socks with holes and no mates is beyond me. And sadly, I can’t blame it on newborn delirium.

I’m not entirely sure at what age the collection bug hits, but I am guessing it happens early. Already, Joe has his ‘farm’ collection, which consists of hand picked stuffed animals and nick-nacks. Joe keeps his collection on the shelves of his headboard; the shelves are overstuffed, and Joe knows immediately, if one of the animals or nick-nacks is out of place. And, I see hints that lead me to believe Charlie wants to start a collection. He gathers many little things and keeps the items in a box or bag. But, Charlie’s attention span is not quite as fine tuned as Joe’s attention span. The contents of Charlie’s boxes and bags change daily. So far, the boys seem to have ‘normal’ and ‘acceptable’ collections. No fingernail collections in this house! Sadly, they haven’t asked to see their belly button stubs. No worries. I can wait.