Am I Raising A Hoarder Or Am I Just Paranoid?

Am I Raising A Hoarder Or Am I Just Paranoid?

Quirks. Everyone has a trait which may seem peculiar to some, while others find these qualities amusing and cute.

I noticed it about a year ago; my 2-year-old, Anne, gathering “special” items and placing them in “special” bags.

“Isn’t that sweet,” I thought, as Anne collected small animals and stickers, tucking them away in her tiny pink plastic purse.

As the months wore on, Anne requested bigger and bigger bags to store her “special” treasures.

A tote bag here, a grocery bag there - and now a year later, these special bags are everywhere. Sorting them takes an immense amount of time and even then, I have to snag them in secret as Anne reacts as if I was robbing her of her favorite toy when I take them.

I was alarmed today when I noticed a grease stain on the pocket of Anne's winter coat and peaked in the pouch to find 5 french fries squashed inside.

“Anne, did you know you have french fries in your pocket?” I asked.

“Those were good. I am saving them for later.” she replied wheeling her baby cart filled with weird treasures like MAC false eyelashes, refried beans, and Ziplock bags stuffed with Play Doh.

Gazing around the laundry room, I noticed 2 special bags hanging from Anne's designated coat hook and found her school bag exploding with random papers, a yogurt tub, and various stuffed animals.

“Anne!” I exclaimed, a little frightened at the thought of my child being a future hoarder. “Let’s put away some of your special things.”

In horror, Anne grabbed her coveted special bags and held them to her chest. She proceeded to explain to me that she plays with her special bags. Of course, I had seen her playing with the random items as she sorts and names the contents, but is her behavior something I should be concerned about?

Turning to one of my favorite publications, Psychology Today, I searched for a reasonable explanation to calm my worried heart.

In an article entitled, Childhood Collecting: A Neglected Connection between Playing and Learning, Robert and Michele Root-Bernstein speak about children and their need to collect, stating “Sometimes a collection is not just a collection, but a spur to the imagination, to learning and creating.”

After reading this article, I felt a sense of relief. My fear turned to nervous laughter as I vowed never to watch an entire season of Hoarders on Netflix again.

I am sure there will be plenty of moments in the future when I will worry for my children as I observe their behavior, but for now, I am content in sorting out my daughter's special bags and will try not to over analyze her behavior.

Are we too worried as parents?

What are your kids' quirks?


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  • My son has a couple of quirks, which certainly amuse but worry us a little bit. He loves vacuums. He loves to watch vacuum infomercials and then re-enact them. He can name of vacuum brands, Kirby, Dyson, Eureka, and Bissel. I thought it would go away after a month, but it's been about 5 months. He also has to watch the Nutcracker Ballet at least once a day, if not twice and he has to jump around wildly while doing so. None of it seemed like that big of deal at first, but I don't want him going to school telling other kids he loves vacuums and the Nutcracker! I'm like "Mainstream interests! Soccer! Football!" I'm already worried about him "fitting in". :(

  • In reply to Amanda:

    I love that he is embracing different interests because it makes for an interesting day. I love the Nutcracker! He will totally fit in and find a little crew of friends to call his own! :)

  • As for the hoarding, my son has every paper he has ever received in his life in his room. It drove me crazy and we butted heads many times over me recycling them.

    My new rule is in the kids' rooms they can do as they wish. In the rest of the house I can keep it clean and orderly.

    We worry too much too.

  • In reply to Yoga Mom:

    I like that rule. They can have their own space and feel cozy in it. I let the kids decorate their own rooms and they love it! We do worry way too much...

  • Oh, Elizabeth, I completely understand your pain! My middle son is a hoarder as he places emotional value on items such as gum wrappers given to him by a kid in kindergarten - he's now in fifth grade! I also have a lazy teenager. She's not a hoarder - she just doesn't care that her room is a mess. She'll clean it every two weeks when our cleaning crew is scheduled to come, but only because we tell her she will have to tidy her room anyway plus wash her floors, dust her furniture, windex, etc. Thankfully, my youngest is like me! He is always cleaning things, organizing, recycling and donating.
    Yoga Mom is totally right - we worry too much! The neat freak in me just cringes each time I walk by a messy room!
    Good luck with Anne! And don't eat any of her french fries!

  • I guess I am worrying about nothing. I honestly think I had watched way too many Hoarders episodes and I was tyring to figure out why she was collecting all these items. Was she feeling some kind of loss? Were these "things" replacing something? Wow. I AM crazy mom. I love it when you tell me stories about your kids. They are amazing!

  • You're the parent and you should be setting limits and establishing daily / weekly cleaning routines.

  • In reply to di77:

    Thank you for suggesting limits and cleaning routines! And thank you very much for reading and commenting. Have a wonderful night!

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