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March 1998 Issue
A Kid's Idea Of Collectibles
by Lacey Julian
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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 something.

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 sharks.

  • 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, too.

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 descendants.

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!



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