I have a creature in my home who scurries around collecting bits of paper and plastic and stores it wherever she can find a place. Day and night, this small being is collecting every last morsel someone else leaves behind. To her, it is a newfound treasure. These piles of trash are amongst toys, a mountain of stuffed animals, and bowls of rocks.
This curious mammal is my 7-year-old daughter. She is a collector of everything — not just ordinary objects, but literal trash as well. Where this tendency came from, I often wonder. I’m not the tidiest person, but I also don’t covet scraps of paper and string. I haven’t forced her to part with her old toys or other items she was attached to. It’s a funny sight to watch her running around the house picking things up from the floor, diverting her path toward her bedroom instead of the trash can if I don’t catch her in time. To her, whether it’s a coin or rubber band, it may as well be a nugget of gold.
Ever since she was old enough to collect little items she has been doing just that, hesitant to let anything she deems important out of her possession. Most times we are cleaning she holds up a piece of plastic packaging or a string and asks, “What’s this?” When I tell her it’s just garbage, she immediately follows with, “Can I have it?” My dear child, if you love me at all please don’t spread the trash all over this house. I shake my head as we are not alike in this, and so many other ways. She is fascinated by tiny figurines, is a natural artist, and has a very scattered attention span, all of which are traits my sister possesses. My daughter didn’t grow up around her so I often wonder how much genetics is at play?
It’s possible she is set to be on trend with the maximalist or new Cluttercore aesthetic that I just can’t seem to get on board with. I am not a minimalist by any means but I also like clean spaces. Perhaps she is and will grow into someone who enjoys being surrounded by objects and decor galore!
She does impress me at times with her creations that stem from her amassed collections. One night my husband and I were assembling an outdoor patio set and the kids were out helping collect trash and handing us the pieces we needed. I noticed my daughter quietly playing in the corner. Suddenly she begged for my attention: “Mom, look!” She had somehow crafted a necklace from the leftover rubber pieces that were cushioning the patio set parts and the ribbon that tied the bags of tools together. I have no idea how she even tied all the string herself, as she can barely tie her own shoes. It hangs from our doorknob to this day.
Sometimes her collections are problematic. Collections of crackers, candy, rocks with dirt and sand clinging to them are scattered around her room. We had a party of ants in our front hall closet due to one such collection. She always shrugs when I ask her why she’s collecting certain things, often as I’m shaking my head while vacuuming insects and dirt. I am concerned one day she will become a full-on hoarder as she prizes even the most mundane of things. Then again she could grow into a recycling activist and go on to save the world or become a famous artist who creates from ordinary objects… or maybe she’s just a kid who has a weird habit. As with all things, time will tell.
I may never fully understand how or why my youngest wants to collect as many stuffed animals and rocks as possible, or why the trash on the table after dinner is so enticing. I do appreciate and admire that she sees the world differently from myself. As long as she isn’t inviting more ants into the home with her collections, perhaps there isn’t too much harm in letting her little personality shine.
CJ Kelsey is a wife and mother of two and she had her family live in the metro Detroit area. She works as a physical therapist and in her spare time enjoys reading, baking and writing in her blog mommingonfumes.com.