August 3, 2010

Hoarders, Junior

I think my daughter has been inhabited by the spirit of some soul who toiled throughout the Great Depression. Maybe the Steinbeckian ghost of Tom Joad or something. Mia has, quite simply, turned into a hoarder.

I mentioned this a while back but didn't elaborate much but examples keep piling up. For instance: I walked downstairs on Saturday morning - Beth having graciously let me sleep in - and while attempting to stumble into the kitchen, aimed at the coffee maker, I hear quiet weeping. I asked why she was so upset.

Mia: Mwaaaahhh.
Beth: I threw the old deflated, dangerous-to-Owen because he will try to eat them birthday balloons away.

Like most things, Mia wanted to keep the balloons for ever and ever. If it were up to Mia, she would part with nothing. The wax that goes around the little cheeses you buy in the grocery store? She'd keep it. Phone book older than her? Prized possession. Bathing suit three sizes too small that now makes her look like a little red aquatic sausage? She will give it up to you only if you are an actual, verified princess.

Its fascinating, really. Fascinating and weird. If I had my own television network - RCTN, the Rude Cactus Television Network - I'd devote a whole show to it. Call it Hoarders Junior. It would be in the lineup between Infants and Tiaras and 274 Kids And Counting. Though it might be the perfect lead in to The Biggest Boozer or Celebrity Porn Fit Club. Or maybe just after a marathon of The Midget Whisperer.

For now, though, some of the shit is just disappearing. Out the back door. In the middle of the night.

When you were a kid, did you ever have anything you wouldn't get rid of? What was your one most prized possession?

Posted by Chris at August 3, 2010 6:46 AM

This I have to comment on. My third child, age 10, has recently had weeping fits because I donated one of her many blankets and one of her many stuffed animals over 2 years ago. I cannot convince her that I only would have done this if she had agreed (although the lovely husband apparently has been telling the kids that I randomly sneak into their rooms and throw things out - thanks hubby). The weeping fits even came with a note that included the phrase "messed up my life." Sign me up for an episode.

Posted by: Meredith at August 3, 2010 7:15 AM

I remember the night before my father was going to re-wallpaper my bedroom (I was about 12), I was sobbing because I decided I didn't want to get rid of my Snow White and the 7 Dwarves wallpaper. I'm sure there was other miscellaneous shit too.

However! My niece was/is totally unable to get rid of things. When she was little it was toys and tricycles and she would have a fit! And everything had a NAME! She's probably that to a lesser degree now but I know her room is a disaster :-)

So I guess it's ok until Mia starts giving them names. Then she'll never get rid of anything!

Posted by: NancyJ at August 3, 2010 8:03 AM

When my daughter was little we were sure she was going to grow up to be a bag lady. She was always asking for bags to keep her "stuff" in. We moved when she was 12 and coloring books from age 4 moved with us....there were ziploks with shells and rocks...well, you get my drift. Now she is 25 and has her own place, spotless and uncluttered (although she has about 10 boxes in MY basement that contain Gawd knows what!).

Posted by: Leslie at August 3, 2010 8:31 AM

I wasn't too bad, I saved things like cards and tiny trinkets, not (what I view as) trash.

My daughter (9) is a Child Hoarder. I threw away a candy wrapper that was on the counter the other day and all hell broke loose. "I was SAVING that! It was SPECIAL! You're throwing away my MEMORIES!!!!!!!!!!!" Dude. I shit you not, this kid would keep EVERYTHING (even, like Mia, deflated balloons). It's insane. I do the middle of the night clean out, and also the purge when she's at her dad's house. However, this kid remembers EVERYTHING and she usually calls me on it.

Good luck! I hope you don't get buried alive or find a dead pet squashed underneath all Mia's stuff!

Posted by: js at August 3, 2010 8:42 AM

My mom is hoarder. Even so the hoarding tendencies we had as kids pissed her off. She'd throw away our toys in the middle of the night, which for us really just made things worse. We'd hide our favorite toys and candy wrappers in various places throughout the house (learning early that no where in our rooms was safe).

What really helped us was a trip with the church or school to a soup kitchen/homeless shelter, where we donated some of our old toys. I remember that I had stolen my siblings stuff instead of giving away something of my own. I don't remember the details of the actual trip all so well, but I remember that on the bus ride back one of the chaperone moms gave a LONG speech about giving and waste. How leaving something unused in your house was just as wasteful as throwing it away if someone could use it. At 12 (?) I zoned out most of it, but that line stuck with me. Each Christmas I'd take my OWN toys down the the blue box.

I do still find myself having problems with the things I know won't be useful to anyone: opened art supplies, computer boxes, popsicle sticks. Oh, and of course those ever-present mugs you get for free.

Posted by: Jeanne at August 3, 2010 9:16 AM

Chris, have you tried showing Mia Freecycle online? She might understand how so many people can actually USE (or even need!) stuff that the rest of us are just holding on to for no "real" reason--and how we can even feel benevolent and good about ourselves if we pass them on. (Jeanne, that also goes for your "things you know won't be useful to anyone." I was amazed how many things I had in that category that people were obviously happy to lay their hands on!)

As for stuff like deflated birthday balloons, might it be possible to get one of these decorated cardboard boxes that they sell in the supermarket, have Mia keep the box in HER room, and say "That's YOUR box to keep YOUR special things SAFE"? Then, the junk will at least be out of sight, & tidy, and you'd be amazed how much stuff those boxes hold. And if/when she runs out of space, then (you'll tell her) she'll just have to figure out how she can make more room for NEW special things.

Them's just my thoughts. But for sure don't ever throw "her" stuff away without her permission, or she'll REALLY become a hoarder out of real fear of loss (to to speak)...

Posted by: janice at August 3, 2010 9:35 AM

At that age, we had funerals for balloons(her thing not mine). My kids love to donate to others. But 6yrs.later she still swears I gave away her sister when I traded in the old car.

BTW....totally tune in to that program. :)

Posted by: debb at August 3, 2010 9:40 AM

Dude! Totally unrelated comment, but did you know that you are on

Did you start the site? BTW, I LOVE it.

Posted by: LJ at August 3, 2010 10:15 AM

I was definitely not a hoarder. My kids going this phase right now. One of them hides toilet paper around the house like she won't be able to make it to a bathroom in time or something.

Posted by: Rex at August 3, 2010 10:47 AM

Too funny! I am in my late twenties now, and I have fun going through the things I saved as a child. In fact, I was just at my parents' house this weekend and went through one box that I had labeled "Allison's Sentimental Junk (i.e. NEVER sell at a garage sale!)" It was full of carefully wrapped little clay projects I had made, 2nd place trophies from soapbox derbies, and other stuff that I simply threw in the garbage. But I'm glad my mom followed my instructions and didn't try to sell that stuff at a garage sale - it must have been tempting!

Posted by: Allison at August 3, 2010 10:54 AM

I was a child hoarder. I developed an emotional attachment to pretty much everything. I would also go through the trash can in the church supply room and salvage anything I thought I might be able to use, ever, for anything.

Now, I am constantly throwing things away. Much to my daughter's dismay.

Posted by: Amy at August 3, 2010 11:47 AM

Mickey Mouse pillow case. Wouldn't give it up until I was five. I chewed on the corner of it like it was a pacifier until there was a hole three inches in diameter. My mom still has it, in her cedar chest. My dogs are free to chew on their toys...and pillowcases.

Posted by: Jenn Benn at August 3, 2010 12:31 PM

My oldest son was a hoarder - he has grown out of it at 12. My youngest son is a hoarder. Started around the age of 2, and has continued (he'll be 8 in Sept.) I am going to be in HUGE trouble when he returns from 3 weeks in Oklahoma with my parents, as I've de-junked his room. He will demand to know where his empty gum box collection went, along with numerous other things.

Posted by: Mindy at August 3, 2010 2:17 PM

i was like that. i anthropomorphized all my stuffed animals, feeling guilty for not playing with them all often enough. i saved every little piece of anything and attached sentimental value to it all. i was devastated every time a new season of tv changed and old shows were canceled. i saved chewed gum in a pile for gods sakes.

and now i delight in trips to goodwill to drop off donations and clearing out clutter and empty surfaces and zero tchotchkes. so there is hope :)

and i also secretly throw away crap that my kids get when they are asleep and hope they just don't notice :)

Posted by: kati at August 3, 2010 4:28 PM

I don't think there was anything that I wouldn't get rid of per say, maybe toys, but never anything like phonebooks and cheese.

Posted by: Sean at August 3, 2010 8:00 PM

I think I went through a stage where I was hoarding stuff, but I did grow out of it when I was older. I remember my one cherished possession was a small pillow I'd had since I was a baby - a small white square pillow, with a pink satin ribbon band across the top and a small embroidered bunny on it. I think my mom still has it somewhere (she is definitely a hoarder - I only managed to convince her her to throw away her maternity clothes when I was in my early 20's!). What my parents did to try an negate the hoarding was to give me a box - I think it was a box from some or other PC component that my dad had lying around. I was told that the box was mine to use for keeping special things in. I got to decorate it etc and keep it in my bedside table cupboard. Obviously the box was not big enough to hold a lot of stuff, so I had to start choosing what I wanted to keep.

Posted by: Delia at August 4, 2010 1:15 AM

Make up something like the "Help other kids who don't have it as good as you Fairy" or someone like that who comes in the middle of the night to loot the house and take things away....

Posted by: Rose @Dozenroses13 at August 7, 2010 2:48 AM

omg, I have the same daughter, just a few years older. my 9 year old is a hoarder. the billions of little plastic trinkets and crap we have everywhere? thanks to her.

Posted by: iheartnewyork at August 9, 2010 10:07 PM

Some time ago, I needed to buy a house for my corporation but I did not earn enough money and could not buy something. Thank goodness my fellow suggested to try to get the loans at trustworthy bank. Thence, I acted so and was satisfied with my consolidation loan.

Posted by: BeulahRussell28 at August 6, 2011 1:37 PM