My husband, on the other hand, while he may not think of himself as a "collector," collects. While sorting, packing, and purging over the last few weeks in preparation for the move, I uncovered his own attic stash....not only did I find his childhood collection of basketball trading cards, but also his baseball card "commons" (cards worth nothing), which were in boxes marked for a previous yard sale...a yard sale, for the record, which must have been pre-me (because this was the first I've seen of them...obviously, or they would have been gone loooooonnng ago). And then....there were more: hundreds, HUNDREDS, of Garbage Pail Kid cards. Oy. And that was just the first bin.
So, I shouldn't be surprised to find neatly organized Things covering every surface in my boys' rooms. Some of their Things are Very Special: found treasures like sparkly rocks, yearned-for treasures like matchbox cars that they bought with their Own Money, or Special Gift treasures like the real (dead) seahorse Great Mom Mom sent from Florida. Others are totally random, like the yellow fork and knife from our plastic dish set that is up in Evan's room and comprise a portion of his "Ninja Tools." Still others are Objects My Brother Can't Touch And I Can Say He Can't Because It's Part Of My Very Special Collection.
While a lifelong lover of Things, Evan has been slowly amassing his official collection over the last 18 months or so. Carefully curating his Things as his interests evolve over time, Evan's things each have a special place on his shelf according to a secret hierarchy that I can't begin to understand. If I try to replace an item for him, Evan will sigh and say, "Let me just do it, Mom. It goes like this," as he shifts it to the left 1/8 of an inch. Max, on the other hand, has a less sentimental approach to his Collection. If he likes it, it goes to his room. If it's a Buddy, it goes into his Buddy Bin or crib. If it's a Special Thing, onto his shelf. To be honest, I wasn't really so sure he even cared so much about what was going into his room so long as he was, like his Big Brother, Collecting.
I underestimated him.
This morning, he and Evan were Travelers. They packed their bags (sand pails, really) and headed out on grand adventures while I packed boxes in anticipation of our real life Grand Adventure. I knew that some of their Special Thing Collectibles made it into their pails, but so did other random toys like Fisher-Price Little People and wooden nuts and bolts.
At naptime, as Max picked out books and Molly cooed on her blanket on the floor, I noticed that Max's book shelf top was completely clean. "Max, where's all of your stuff?"
"[Gasp!] They were all packed up for my trip with Evan! Imma go get 'em."
I followed him into the (completely destroyed, toy-strewn) playroom and watched him very carefully survey the pile. He filled his sand pail with a few select items from amid the dumped-toy-bin melee: an orange engine from a Thomas the Tank Engine train set, Batman, a polar bear cub, a shell sent to him from Florida by Great Mom Mom, a plastic screwdriver, a squishy lizard, and four paint brushes. He brought the pail back to his room and, very particularly, arranged his collection on his shelf.
He stood back and looked at it, with furrowed brow, not quite pleased with what he saw.
"The astronaut!" he declared, before running out of his room once more.
As he placed the tiny, plastic astronaut among the other treasures, he said, "There. All my Special Things are back where they belong."
To the future spouses of my boys: Better start paring down your own Special Things now. My boys are going to take up all of the attic space with theirs. It's not my fault--blame their Dad. But now, I need to go figure out what to do with the random golf club, baseball bat, motorcycle helmet, and paper shredder that, for some reason, are still up in our attic.