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The urge to collect begins in the womb, as an instinctive animal
characteristic. Oh sure, we all know those among our species who
staunchly believe they never did, and never will, "collect" anything.
Look again, because somewhere unnoticed even unto themselves they hoard
too. A prime example is the man I married. The outside world could
never conceive of this particular man as a collector. Yet, where is he
right now? At 3:30am I am getting a blister writing this article long
hand while he is playing, yet another, new found computer game
downloaded from cyberspace. How many games has he collected? I don't
keep track and neither does he. Therein lies my point, we all collect
If we assume we are born with the basic instinct to collect, then we
have to ask ourselves when do we begin to nurture our young, so as to
cultivate this drive into positive experiences that best benefit them.
When we look at the hobby of collecting, and how it pertains to
children, we must first separate our desires from theirs. It is of
utmost importance to be able to distinguish our wants for them, from
their wants for themselves. It is not so much who chooses the
type of item collected, as the connection the child has to the valuable
object. The biggest problem in getting children to appreciate the value
of collectibles is often their inability to interact, or PLAY, with
them. Most items adults enjoy collecting are those that we once played
with, watched our grandmothers mix cake batter in, or remind us of
something we love. It then stands to reason, a child who isn't involved
in the process of choosing the collectible item, and/or a child left on
his/her own to develop a connection to the collectible, will place an
inappropriate value on that item. It is the adult's responsibility to
see that a connection is made, not the child's. More important than
providing children with objects that will hopefully increase in value
over time, are the opportunities of the hobby to bring people together,
as well as the educational opportunities that abound. And, let me say
for the record, collectibles do not have to be expensive items to make
children happy. "Things" do not make children happy, "people" do. Let's
look at a few examples of what I mean:
Auntie wants to start a collection for Nephew. When his first
Christmas arrives she presents him with an ornament. Each year
thereafter, she makes additions to his collection until his eighteenth
Christmas. A wonderful idea, especially if the ornament she purchases
represents a special event during the course of the year in the child's
life, or if Auntie takes the child with her each year and allows the
child to choose an ornament for himself. Then together, they attach a
small note reminding them of the choice, so that when the child turns
forty years old, and neither he or Auntie can remember the particulars,
they won't have to search very far for the answers.
Nephew is six years old and Uncle is baby-sitting. While walking
through the local park they spot a shark's tooth in a dried up
riverbed. Uncle helps to explain about the tooth and Nephew's interest
soars. Instead of chucking the tooth over his shoulder and walking on,
Nephew has a precious possession and wants to find more. For his
birthday, Uncle presents him with a trip to the aquarium and a book on
Granddaughter is turning eight years old and Grandma decides it is
time to begin her grandchild's collection of expensive porcelain dolls.
Granddaughter receives her first doll and is informed that it was
expensive and should be treated as such. She may, "look but not
touch". What's more Granddaughter will have to wait until her next
birthday to be given an addition to her collection, so for the next year
an item meant to bring joy means "Grandma spent a lot of money on it and
I can't play with it". But, what if Granddaughter had turned two years
old and Grandma decided now was the time to start her collection?
Grandma's birthday gift could be a less costly porcelain doll and a
vinyl dolly with a play stroller. The porcelain doll is placed on a
high shelf in Granddaughter's room, but the plastic one rides all over
the house in its play stroller. For Granddaughter's third birthday
Grandma adds to her collection of porcelain dolls and gives her a toy
bed for dolly. Now, by the time the child turns eight years old she has
a collection of "good" dolls and has, at the same time, been able to
build a closer relationship to the collection by playing mommy to her
baby. Which collection will mean more to Granddaughter when she becomes
an adult and can appreciate the time, effort and expense Grandma went
through? The one Grandma started when Granddaughter was eight years
old, or the one Grandma started when the child turned two years old?
Another way to make a connection in the same situation would be to begin
the collection of porcelain dolls at Granddaughter's eighth birthday,
but allow her to pick from several choices the one she wants, thereby a
learning experience for both relatives. Grandma's visits to grandchild
are much closer for the both of them when they bring those precious
dolls down from the shelf, sit on the floor of her bedroom, and talk!
Yes, you can bridge the generation gap! Granddaughter can learn about
the care, dress, and historical time periods associated with each doll
and, I'd wager, Grandma can learn a few things about her grandchild,
So, whether you choose to begin a child's collection while the child
is in the womb (as I found myself doing when I realized I was standing
in the Barbie aisle of the toy store, surrounded by pink, in my seventh
month), or wait to pick up signals from an older child, make sure the
child's natural curiosity is fostered and you'll have created memories
that will last that child a lifetime, maybe longer should that child
pass his/her possessions, and loving memories of you, on to their
KID STUFF - WHAT'S HOT
In 1993, the movie The Nightmare Before Christmas was released
to theaters. The movie was expected to be a blockbuster hit, but it
fell short of its expectations. Bad for Disney who released it, great
for collectors. The story is sweet with a moral, the animation is
wonderful, and the music will have you humming in no time.
Unfortunately, it scared the pants off of a large section of population
the movie was supposed to target - little children. Should you be able
to find a copy of the movie, buy it - the kids will grow! Should you
happen upon any figures based on the film - buy them! The same with
books, CDs, cups, mugs, etc.
KID STUFF - WHAT'S NOT
Ah, I wish I could tell you to run right out a buy Princess
Diana...anything. Don't bother. The market is flooding with Diana
items. If you liked her and you want to purchase something, go ahead.
But don't purchase Diana items hoping to make a killing in the market
years from now, and don't rush out to sell your 10 year old Diana
figurine thinking you'll make a huge profit. If you have such an item
hang onto it and enjoy.
Remember to send your kid's collectible questions to Ask Lacey in care
of Seasoned Cooking. Have a great month and keep you heads up, eyes
open, and ears tuned in to your kids!
Coming Soon: Reviews of children's cookbooks!