What is it with kids gathering small things and carrying them around, depositing them in all manner of receptacles? It doesn’t seem an eccentricity that exists just in our house either. One of my nieces used to try to go to bed every night with a hoard of stuff in various bags in her bed. So much so in fact, she would struggle to squeeze herself in. Slightly more worryingly, she would also attempt to wear all manner of whistles, scarves and necklaces around her neck. Seemingly not content with having them, she needed to be wearing as much as she could.
When my eldest was two, his special interest subject was blue plastic tops from Evian 500ml bottles. You may think I’m being a little nerdy in my description, but no – I learnt to my cost that a Volvic or Tesco’s-own wouldn’t cut the mustard (they were dark blue. His needed to be light blue). Mind you, his eyes nearly popped out of his head when he saw one from a Tropicana juice carton. They were similar, but smaller and orange. It blew his mind.
I have absolutely no idea where this obsession came from (and even if a two year old should be playing with such things), but he had a number of them (three or four) at all times. Or else. If one got lost, then I’d be there searching down the sofa like a madwoman trying to find a winning lottery ticket. I even bought more bottles on occasion in order to restore calm. I don’t remember exactly how long it lasted for and, now that he’s seven (and relatively sane), the entire phase seems completely ludicrous. He also finds it hilarious to hear about his seemingly ridiculous, compulsive obsession. So much so, I wish I could remember more stories to share.
My youngest has had phases where various ‘things’ have been important to him too. Whilst neither of them have been into carrying a cuddly teddy around, my youngest went through a phase of being mysteriously attached to a Gary Rhodes cookbook. Like I say, kids are comedy-gold. I swear that one of his first two-word phrases was ‘Gary Rhodes’, which he’d say like clockwork whenever we pointed to the book he’d be carting around (thankfully that’s one video we do have). Seeing is believing. The weird thing is, I’m not sure why we had it floating around (we only ever made the ‘Toad in the Hole’ from it). I think it must have been when we were moving house and we had stuff everywhere.
Now he just likes generic stuff, as long as it’s small and would be tempting for me to bin. Figurines, Match Attax football cards, mini notepads, Lego men, matchbox cars, stuff from party bags, you name it, he will gather it. He likes to stuff them into buckets, boxes and bags. Thankfully he’s now moved out of the stage where he’d gather bits of games (cards, counters, dice, balls) to keep with his general stash, making the games themselves completely useless.
I’m not sure why kids do this. It’s like they want to feel the sense of ownership, doesn’t matter what. It also seems to give them a sense of security and seems to coincide with a high need for control (of their things, their surroundings and their parents…). I assume most of us go with it, for an easy life and if it’s not harming them, then their fixations can seem quite cute. All too soon they will become more self-conscious and aware of what other people think. When we’re inevitably asked for those overpriced trainers, we’ll be thinking back to the simplicity of when a couple of bottle tops was enough to bring a smile to their faces.