My 9yo is a packrat. A cute packrat, but a packrat nonetheless.
Honestly, I sometimes worry I’m raising a future episode of Hoarders.
Cleaning up the kitchen this morning, I decided to finally put away (and recycle and toss out) a full plastic container worth of her more preciously guarded found objects…
Two weeks ago, the packrat and her 5yo brother went on an all-day school excursion (called Dead Fish/Live Fish, two of their teachers took a small group of kids to the UW Fish Collection at the Burke Museum for the morning and then to the Seattle Aquarium for the afternoon – so very cool) that would involve them being on their feet all day. Handing my daughter her rain coat, I insisted that the 20 POUNDS worth of ODDS AND ENDS that filled her pockets to the bursting point had to be emptied out, if just for the day, so she didn’t end up with a HEADACHE from all that weight dragging on her petite little shoulders for eight hours. After a brief (if ridiculous) battle, she gave in, though not very graciously, and emptied out into a Tupperware container:
- One green bead bracelet that she proudly bought at a craft store with her own money (and has subsequently gifted to her grandmother);
- One pad of pink heart-shaped Post-it notes, with what looks like the Flux Capacitor drawn in blue marker on the top (for the record, she’s never seen “Back to the Future,” but I don’t put it past her to invent time travel in our lifetime) next to a band-aid and a sword;
- Two rubber bands, one red, one green;
- Nine pieces of folded or rolled up pieces of paper or index cards with either notes to herself (Dear Paisley… From Paisley), drawings of (cute) monsters, or secret codes that required decryption to read;
- One red raffle ticket;
- One flattened beer bottle cap (I don’t want to know);
- One metal hook from a broken clothes hanger (really?);
- One end of a grommet;
- Two washers without bolts;
- Two pennies and one nickel;
- And 31 (31!!) polished stones from her stone collection (yes, she has a stone collection – she has a collection for everything), as well as four good ol’ normal, gray-colored rocks that clearly came from the park.
After putting on her now nearly weightless rain jacket, she CRIED (really, there were tears), exclaiming in her most heart-broken voice that her coat was “just too light to wear!!” You see, she had been carrying around all of those bits and pieces in her pockets for MONTHS and MONTHS. I honestly have NO idea what she was doing with all this detritus, but she clearly had a plan…
And she always has had a plan for all the broken splinters of plastic, random beads, lost ribbons, pokey twigs, brightly colored leaves, and chunks of lead pipe (really – I pulled out a lead pipe from her pocket one day) that she collects everywhere she goes, and that inevitably end up in my washer and/or dryer (you’d think, after all these years, I’d finally learn to check the pockets of her jeans and sweatshirts).
So, thinking we’ll make the most of her desire to DO SOMETHING with all her accumulated things (I won’t say junk… I won’t… But I’ll think it…), and in attempts to steer her away from the Hoarder route (there’s just nothing good about that kind of 15-minutes of fame), her father and I often envision our 9yo growing up to be a reclaimed materials artist.
Indeed (cue harp music and start fog machine to create misty, dream-like effect), I imagine young children laughing and squealing with joy as they clamber on top of her design-winning large-scale penguins and snowy owls, ingeniously constructed out of abandoned hubcaps and recycled wine bottles, on display at sculpture parks and other public sites around the world.
So, if I’m truly going to support her calling, I guess I better get her a blowtorch so she can start joining together those little washers and flattened bottle caps she’s found, so that she can finally put them to good, humanitarian, artistic use.
(Right. We will now take a station break for my brain to actually break in on this dreamscape, and remind me that blowtorches involve FIRE.)
On second thought…
Maybe she’d settle for just taking a welding class?