Sunday, November 6, 2011

AwesomeCloud's sense of materialism

My son is three. Therefore he loves his toys. He really loves his toys. He walks around clutching a tractor in one hand and a plushie cat in another hand, and if he needs to use his hands to do something, like use the potty, he stands there, clutching his toys, and howls until I do it for him. (Eating is the exception. He lines his toys up on his seat, because they're not allowed on the table, and reaches down to touch them between bites.)

When he goes to a library or a preschool or, as happens rarely, a friend's house, he immediately selects the 4 or 5 toys he likes the best and he holds onto them. He'll run around playing and shrieking with a fire engine, two school buses, a caboose, and a delivery truck (for instance) all clutched awkwardly to his chest. If one falls, he carefully stops to pick it up and then rearranges his whole collection until his grip on it is solid.

When we transition from one place, or one task, to another, his preferred toys change too. If I tell him to get in the car, he drops his previous handful on the floor and runs to get some very specific toy out of a pile in the other room. Sometimes it can get very specific. Not just any tractor; the green tractor. Not Brown Cat; Orange Cat.

I find the whole thing hilarious. I see greater messages of human behavior in his antics. Some people still cherish their possessions just as strongly when they're adults. Those people have their rationales - "I didn't have much growing up, so I'm making up for lost time." "I've lost valuable stuff before, and I don't want that to happen again." "I've worked hard for all this stuff. It took me years to build up my collection." "It's what makes me happy in life."

I have mixed feelings. I get the urge to purge stuff as often as I wish to keep it. The two instincts sometimes conflict with each other, and I sometimes have to make hard decisions against myself.

I think what I really want is to have less stuff so I can feel more strongly about wanting to get and keep stuff. It's easier to furnish a bare room to your liking than a cluttered room. So I try to bring my rooms a little closer to bare once in a while so that I regain the impression that, if we get more stuff, it'll be okay.

New hobbies are the most difficult. I'm supposed to be teaching myself how to design and sew geeky plushies. But sewing supplies take up so much space! There's nothing I can do about it. If I want to get anywhere with the sewing, I need to get more stuff. I don't want more stuff. Well, I do, especially if it's free... but...

I've been holding off, dragging my feet, wondering if maybe we can jettison the accumulation from an old hobby before adding a new one. I look at my piles of yarn and wonder if I should kill the crocheting. But I don't want to. I crochet quite a bit and I enjoy doing it. Not a whole lot; not enough to turn three baskets of yarn into storeable items anytime soon. But it's certainly not a dead hobby.

In anticipation of Christmas, and the addition of more toys, I've been trying to guess which toys Cloud has outgrown, or are redundant, and boxing them up in the basement for removal later. But he's onto me. He found the boxes under the basement stairs, and now, every couple of days, he goes down to see what toy he hasn't played with in awhile. Nevermind the fact that I generally choose toys that have sat around untouched in his room for a month or more. If they're in the basement boxes, they feel new again to him. And precious all over again.

Also, the number of small, almost-junky-but-not-quite toys he accumulates is staggering. You know, not the McDonald's prizes, but the toys a notch above that? The ones that don't look like trash anymore because you have some actual McDonald's prizes to compare them favorably to? It's fun to let him pick out a cheap cheap toy at a yard sale, figuring you'll box it up in a month or two and in the meantime it's worth $0.50 to let him clutch it for a while. But when it comes time to purge all those old $0.50 toys, it's harder than it sounds.

Once I do finally get them all in a box, there he is ready to rediscover his old/new toys all over again.

And I don't really want to break the cycle by getting rid of the boxes immediately after filling them. Rediscovering his toys is fun. Well, it's fun to him. That's good enough.

1 comment:

  1. Evelyn used to be the exact same! She would walk around with her arms full and about two or three purses on her little shoulders! To this day- toy purging has to be done when she is out of the house- though for a long while I never purged a thing because it seemed to upset her so much. I also had the added bonus of paper scraps- everywhere, this still goes on. She will even save the tags off of clothes and toys.
    One day he will slow down and realize that things will be where he left them. I think you are on the right track- just letting him have his little way.