It’s no secret on this blog that Captain Jelly Belly has a bit of an issue with throwing things away. He’s a hoarder, no doubt. I used to try to take a hard line on the gathering and keeping of garbage, but it was a really slippery slope, and Dr. Phil says that parents should never dig their heels in and make an issue out of something unless they are willing to fight it out to the bitter end. I found I was caving in too much on this front — “Okay, you can keep just one fruit snacks wrapper…just this one sales tag from your new t-shirt…just this one used popsicle stick” — and so I felt my power as a Mommy being diluted. So basically now I just try to look the other way and keep the clutter to a minimum, sometimes by throwing things away after he’s asleep. I warn you now: loose lips sink ships.
I do draw the line at medical-grade waste, though. No matter how many tears are shed, there will be NO keeping of dirty kleenexes, used band-aids, or Q-tips covered in earwax. We do have some standards here.
A few weeks ago the Captain started to keep all his little treasures — a mixture of little toys that he didn’t want to share with anyone else, things he’d made at school that were precious to him, and of course, various bits of garbage that I had mistakenly, horrifyingly, tried to dispose of — on his bedside table. I think he would have loved to have slept with all that detritus but we decided that the side table was the closest he needed to come to the three broken pieces of a 1-inch long sponge dinosaur that he collected at a birthday party.
The gathering quickly escalated until we could no longer safely clean his room — any attempts to dust, stack books on the table, or get a tissue from his kleenex box caused a cascade of crap, into the bed and all over the floor.
So last week I bought him a little plastic bin with an interlocking lid the Superstore. A little bin to keep on his bedside table to hold all his super precious stuff. It’s his “special box,” and boy oh boy, does he ever love it. He immediately put all his little scraps and toys in there and found, to his delight, that it was only half full. Since then, he’s been scouring the house for other bits of garbage and little toys that he can squirrel away in there, where they will be safe from the baby and safe from Bad Guys and safe from disposal for all eternity.
The keeping of stuff is keeping him very, very happy.
I’ve warned him several times that once the bin is full, he’ll need to take some stuff out of it to make room for new stuff. We have a stuff limit now, and it’s Special Box sized. I can’t imagine what I will find when it comes time to houseclean the Box. Kitchen spoons? Gal Smiley’s hairclips? Superstore receipts for the past six months? Empty wax paper backings from stickers? All possible…all likely, even.
Although I’m a little alarmed at how quickly the Special Box has validated his need to collect and keep stuff, I kind of like it, too. It makes me think of the movie Amelie — she finds a little tin in her apartment that used to belong to a little boy, and it contains similar stuff, like a candy wrapper and a little car and a random playing card. Things that don’t really have a lot of actual value, but that are have some mystical priceless value for the boy in question. Things that inspire his imagination and capture his fancy and just are him in some nebulous way.
It’s like having a box full of Captain Jelly Belly. I like it.