Weekly Column: Pockets full of treasures.

©Stephenie Freeman

I thought that boys carrying frogs in their pockets died back in the 1950’s.  Apparently not.  My son doesn’t carry a frog in his pocket, but he does carry around just about anything else that he can find.

I’ve never checked my husband’s before doing laundry.  He’s always been very good about removing everything from his pockets before putting them in the hamper.  A couple of times a forgotten tube of Chapstick found its way to the laundry room, but after ruining two pairs of prized golf slacks, it hasn’t happened since.

My son’s pockets are a different story.  While doing the laundry the other day, I noticed my child’s jeans felt a little heavier than usual.  His pockets were full of…stuff.  Inside I found three small LEGOs, two large chunks of gravel, a piece of plastic from a clothing hanger with the letters “MED”,  a dirty pennies that came from God only knows where, a broken rubber band, and a piece of unused dental floss obviously confiscated from the dentist’s office last week.

If this is a sign of things to come, it looks as if my son is going to grow up to be a pack rat.  Either that or his wife is going to have one hell of a time doing his laundry.

I’m not sure when all of this collecting started, but there is something about it that I find fascinating.  I can just picture my little boy waiting patiently for me in a clothing store, biding his time while I work the clearance rack at Target as he is scouring the floor, discovering all sorts of cool things.  Only he knows what beauty he sees in each, this random collection of trash that has now become pure treasure.

What a boy thing to do, filling his pockets full of snakes and snails and puppy dog tails.  I’ve always thought that my son resembled Dennis the Menace.  The next time I do laundry, I half expect to look inside his pockets and find a sling shot and a bag full of marbles.

My husband collected coins when he was little.  His brother collected baseball cards.  Both collections are now worth a pretty penny although neither is willing to trade them in for the cash.  I only collected stuffed animals.  At one point I think I counted a total of 278 in my collection.  Unfortunately for me they aren’t worth a darn thing.  I didn’t even get a single bid on eBay.

But in the midst of collecting, most of us don’t worry about how much they might eventually be worth.  Our collections are about the chase—about the finding and keeping—and even though my son’s collecting doesn’t have the tidy symmetry of a stamp or rock collection, it is the thrill of the chase that fills his pockets.

Yesterday I scrounged up and old empty shoe box for him to keep his treasures.

“Do you have more of these,” he asked me.

“What for?  Isn’t this one big enough?”

“I like it.  I want more just like it,” he said.

It seems that my son has decided that women’s shoe boxes are cool enough to add to his collection.

If I were a controlling mother (why are you laughing?) I would probably try to steer my son toward collecting something that actually made sense.  When I was his age, I collected stickers.  There was a gift store at the mall that sold Mrs. Grossman’s “Stickers by the Yard.”  I would buy a yard worth, take them home, and oh so carefully put them in a sticker book.  It was a quiet, mess-free activity that kept me busy for hours.

I think I now understand why my mother pushed me to collect them in the first place.

This collecting of random things has come naturally to my child.  It wasn’t something that I had to teach him how to do or something that is part of his school curriculum.  In fact, this whole collecting habit might have started at school.  In his pockets I’ve found a couple of blunt pencils without erasers and several paper clips right next to a small plastic gorilla and a toothpaste cap.

I think we’re going to need a bigger shoebox.

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