Monday, January 14, 2008

All About David

David - let's talk about David, shall we? He is rarely featured in this blog, because he keeps a fairly low profile. Obsessed with all things aeronautical, he spends his days quietly reading books on space flight, making paper airplanes by the dozen, and attempting to construct space stations out of tinfoil and craft sticks. A sweet child, a quiet boy, if a little weird.

But he's a packrat. Now I know a lot of you are going to comment and say that your kid has a lot of junk in his room, too - but we are talking a qualitatively different level of packrat-ness here. As in, today I had to go through his drawers and closet and throw out burst balloons that he had gotten from the dentist; broken toys, the pieces of which he had dug out of the garbage when I wasn't looking; innumerable squashed paper airplanes; broken pencils.....2 trash bags full, and I barely made a dent. And now he is mad at me. Even though I didn't touch his space station models, his oatmeal-container pontoon planes, his tinfoil-and-duct-tape rockets. He cried. This concerns me.

I consider myself a relatively unflappable parent. I don't obsess over how much my kids are fighting, or whether they know how to share, or what their SAT scores are. I assume that, with any amount of luck, they will all grow up to be fairly responsible, normal adults. But this particular problem makes me picture David as one of those lonely adults you read about in the paper on a slow news day -you know, the seemingly normal, gainfully employed middle-aged person who has to be evicted from his dwelling because the health department has declared it hazardous, filled as it is with old newspapers and junk mail and broken furniture, with only a narrow path winding its way through the junk to the front door. And there will be pictures of 2 local firemen lifting him bodily from the house as he screams and tries to clutch at some of his treasured possessions on the way out.

(There won't be cats, though. It's only the crazy ladies who have the 40 feral cats hanging around. I comfort myself with that thought.)

Have I mentioned that he has several stuffed animals he sleeps with? Nothing odd there, I know. Sort of cute, even for a 10-year-old boy. But there's also a bedroom slipper, missing a mate. An old glove. A lonely washcloth. His bed is an asylum for misfit household objects. This carries compassion to new levels, I believe. You will recall that he is the one who painstakingly reattached the heads to all the stuffed animals that Rachel decapitated? They are all there, in his bed - survivors of the carnage.

Please - someone comment and tell me that you were like this as a kid and it's okay. Please? (But not you, Diesel - that would just make things worse.)

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34 comments:

  1. I'm sorry, I can't tell you I was like this as a child. But my brother was. He's now a Professor of Physical Therapy, the adoptive and VERY FUN dad of two rambunctious Guatemalan boys. He most definitely turned out just fine.

    I have a "David" of my own, too, aged nine (though his obsession is buildings and skylines, instead of aeronautics). Maybe they could be IM buddies someday.

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  2. Awwww, I'm sorry, I melted a little somewhere around the sleeping with stuffed animals bit. I have no idea if this is normal or not, but he seems like a smart and sweet kid. Hopefully it is just a phase?

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  3. I am STILL like this. I will painstakingly piece a broken toy back together rather than declare it junk and I still have unusably stained baby onesies that I can't bring myself to throw out because of sentimental value! My family is swimming in clutter and every time we move it's a total nightmare! I haven't spoken with a professional about it, but I'm willing to bet it's some sort of OCD thing.

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  4. My eldest son is a hoarder of infinite dimensions. You would not believe the stuff he saves...all the way down to candy wrapper (I know!) I hadn't worried about his future too much until now...thanks...!

    Heidi

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  5. I have one of those kids, only mine is a girl. She's 10 too, and she collects everything she finds and then some. I throw out bags full of stuff every month and then she comes asking if I've seen "such and such" or "so and so," to which I say, "no, I don't think so." So far she hasn't caught on to where all these treasures are dissapearing to, but I'm sure it's just a matter of time. She is especially fond of making potions in little bottles for her experiments , using whatever she finds in the bathroom and I am forever emptying them out before they make stains on the bed or the couch. I'm hoping all this will pass as she gets older. At least I remember being like her - collecting things and making all kinds of disgusting mixtures when I was a kid...of course I usually did it to try to get my little sister to drink them ;) And here I am, a bit weird, but at least my sister survived and I am not crushed under the weight of tons of garbage. ;)

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  6. I have no words of wisdom, but you're a better mom than I am. I'm not a neat freak but I think all that stuff would send me over the edge.

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  7. I wouldn't worry about David. He will probably grow up to be the next Bill Gates. I have known many hoarding children in my time and they all turned into fine young adults. Worry about something else!

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  8. My older two boys save EVERYTHING. I am under strict orders not to move, replace, or throw away anything in their room. You'd think with all the clutter they wouldn't notice, but they do.

    They took down the framed Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and replaced them with sucker wrappers, foil, the tops of milk cartons, crumpled up paper airplanes, string, sealing wax and other fancy stuff. Wanna know how they attached said stuff to the wall? With toothpaste. Top that. No, little boys are a little weird. But that's what makes them so charming. Years from now, when our boys have made a new wing on the International Space Station we can say, "remember when...." Just be thankful you didn't find a mouse living in all the clutter. Sorry for the visual.

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  9. I had a flashback of an old Dr. Phil episode here... and the scene from Toy Story where the pieces of toys are put back together in odd ways... too funny! He sounds darling. My boys, too, dig those broken, useless McDonalds toys from the trash. I've taken to using black trash bags and going through the toys when they're napping or distracted - and take them straight out to the trash cans. Maybe this is what I have to look forward to in the years to come!

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  10. Erm, if David goes for older women he and Precious Youngest could make quite a pair. She's SIXTEEN and still gets mad when I throw stuff out. Stuff she is sure she will need for some project or another. I'm at wits end, but I think you already know that ;)

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  11. OK I was SOOOOO like this however the good news is that somewhere between high school and married life I reformed and I am a total neat freak, so there is hope!

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  12. My daughter not only sleeps with about fifty stuffed animals, all of which have to be tucked in and kissed, but she sleeps ON TOP of two sets of Dora and Diego phonics books. That's 24 books. All 24 have to be there, and she has to be on top of them. At least I don't have to tuck them in or kiss them.

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  13. He sounds like my neighbor when I was little. He was always in the basement concocting some sort of... thing! He made all sorts of things out of toothpicks. Once he made a pencil that was about 5' tall with a real eraser on it. He took it to school and tried to use it. He was in high school at the time. Actually, I admired this kid. He always seemed so responsible and was probably the nicest boy in the neighborhood. Today he is happily married with his third kid on the way. Your son will turn out great, I'm sure.

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  14. LOL! Is it ok to say that this reminds me of my own son?

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  15. My 10 year old daughter is like this. She saves candy wrappers, broken McDonalds toys, missing game pieces, etc. I go in about 4 times a year and take out at least 2 garbage bags of trash out of her room that she has shoved into the far corners of it. I hope she ends up normal!?!?

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  16. Ben is similar to this....but not with the stuff in his bed. He DID sleep with a 4 inch stuffed worm called Squirmy until he was about 12 though. But he keeps EVERYTHING! Case in point. When he was 6, 7, 8, 9 years old, I would write him letters and put them in his lunch. He still has them. All of them. He is 16.

    I wrote Jessica one on Friday (she's 9) for the first time (that I can remember). When she got home from school, I asked her if she liked the note I wrote her. Her answer? "Huh? What? Oh yeah, the note. I didn't read it".

    I think David is a "version" of normal and I say this because there are so many versions. We had Ben at a counsellar when he was about 11 or 12 and he said that he was the type of kid who would be a loner until he got into University and found some "like minds".

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  17. My oldest is like your son. Every piece of paper or wrapper from a Hershey's Kiss is tucked away because it might work for an art project some day. Every piece of flotsam and jetsam she finds on her way home from school is considered a treasure. And her sock drawer is filled with rocks that she's picked up from goodness knows where. I sneak in every week or so and fill up a garbage sack of stuff. Unlike your son, though, she doesn't seem to notice that I've taken things away - perhaps because she's busy filling her room back up.

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  18. I was definitely NOT like that as a child, but my husband was. He still is a packrat. I hated it when we first got married...that is, until he discovered EBAY. He makes as a large chunck of change selling all his crap he "saves." I just taught him to kepe it in the garage. Our house looks nice, just don't try to open the garage door, it's filled to capacity with his "collectibles." :)

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  19. My Ana, who is brilliant, is EXACTLY like this. And I just found a wad of USED BAND-AIDS in HER room.


    He's normal. Well, he's probably really gifted and strange but he's normal on THAT level.

    PS: My husband still has some pants he wore in HIGH SCHOOL.

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  20. I'm still laughing over your comment. My oldest is 14 months older than the twins, and they're 18 months older than the baby. I loved the "efficient child production schedule." I'm going to have to steal that, if you don't mind. I left them sleeping with their daddy - none of them even knew I was gone! Must be nice, huh?

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  21. Great post! It sounds to me like he's either destined to be a genius of an aeronautics engineer or a Veternarian. Einstein was said to be like that. Even had to have an assistant to remind him to do normal things like go to the restroom and eat meals.

    It's all about perspective. See, your son rescued and sewed the heads back on stuffed animals, and did not decapitate and put them on other toys bodies (like that Sid kid from Toy Story). No two ways about it...he'll probably have a messy desk his whole life, but it'll be an office from whence he makes megabucks. Somehow, all that 'mess' is spawning creative genius.

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  22. I'm new to your blog, saw 6 children and had to come see...I currently have four girls all under 6 years old- I love big families and just thought I would say hello. I can't relate to your David story much, it's pretty pink here. :) He sounds like a sweetie.

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  23. My son is a little like this and he is 6. But together we go into the mess and pick out things that we will "give away" (toss out) and he feels good about getting rid of some toys, guns made out of duck tape and pencils, wooden knives, deflated balloons and other such things. You are not a lone. Boys I think are just like that. Either really messy or neat freaks.

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  24. I am almost 50 and still have not entirely forgiven my mother for throwing away my collection of school art projects when I was in the 1st grade; there was one in there that I was so proud of, and to her it was all junk to be tossed while I was at school. Maybe that is when I became a pack-rat, I am still trying to get even with her.

    TR

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  25. Ach! I forgot to comment when I came by yesterday, so caught up in the distractions! But, yes, absolutely, I have one of these kids. But whether it's normal... that I don't know. If not, we'll make sure to introduce them to each other in about 20 years...

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  26. My husband is a lot like your son. He was a weird kid and is now a brilliant, successful, sexy rocket scientist/businessman. He is still a packrat. Luckily, we have moved a bunch of times since we've been married so I have managed to "lose" a lot of his junk during the moves. I am somewhat of an enabler, though, picking up after him.

    Sounds like David is a bright, sensitive kid.

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  27. I think it's cute. I wasn't like that and look at ME - so your son will probably grow up to be a Senator.

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  28. I can't say I was like that as a child but your description of David sounds so very endearing! (BTW - I am a pilot)

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  29. I think maybe I'm married to your son. Except my husband isn't ten years old. But he never ever picks anything up. One of the conditions of our marriage is that I simply pick up everything. He has many wonderful compensating qualities, but ... yeah.

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  30. David and my son MUST meet. They will have so much in common! Maybe my son can be David's packrat apprentice.

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  31. David sounds sweet and normal. Rachel, on the other hand.... :)
    Actually, I've come to the conclusion that all kids are nuts. There's nothing we can do about it.

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  32. My friend's son is like this. She goes into his room like a drill sargeant at inspection. Sean's favorites are the little plastic yolks you unwrap from the milk gallon.

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  33. This made me feel better. I have a 10 year old son like this, and while I have no idea if he'll turn out ok (some days I have my doubts, since he's in his own world most of the time), at least it's nice to know there are others out there who can join him in group therapy!
    Also, Theresa mentioned her daughter in comments--my daughter is just like hers! Maybe we as parents can start our own group for therapy! Let me know.

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  34. I hope he'll be OK because if not, we've got a problem here too.

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