Thursday, August 25, 2011

My son the Collector

My family is full of collectors. My husband and grandfather collect coins. My father-in-law collected stamps and matchbooks. I have a collection of elephant figurines, miniature and mighty. My dad collects stacks of paper like a champion packrat. But the most amazing collection I know of belongs to my four year old. He collects soft edges.

The preeminent White Blankie
D. is a very tactile kid and since he was very young he would rub the edge of his beloved White Blankie between his thumb and forefinger for comfort, especially at bedtime.

While traveling this summer, we noticed him rubbing the edge of an airline blanket (permanently borrowed by our Eastern Shore relatives).
"Do you like the edge of that blanket?" my husband asked.
"Yes," answered D. "It's in my collection."
"Your collection? What collection do you have?" said his dad.
"A collection of soft edges," replied the sleepy four-year-old boy. "I keep it in my heart."

My contribution to the collection
My husband couldn't wait to share this amazing aspect of our son's personality with me, and since then we've enjoyed exploring new textures with our middle kid to discover what he chooses to curate. Hard edges and corners, like those found on seatbelt buckles, wooden dining room chairs and walls, do not make the cut. But the fluffy edge of my pajama robe and the little bridge of skin between my thumb and first finger figure prominently.

Children, maybe just my children, want to touch everything around them and I am often discouraging their need to explore because I'm so worried about germs. But they are little scientists accumulating data using all of their senses. He is experiencing the world more fully and more freely than an adult like me who only grazes handrails and doorknobs, who is cautious of prickly plants and direct contact with the bottom of shoes, and even wary of setting my coffee spoon down on our outdoor furniture.

Despite my warnings, he continues to touch things and classify the world using his own special criteria. I try to accept his approach and allow him to experiment, investigate, cast off or embrace what he chooses. I am grateful, at least, that with this collection there is nothing for me to dust.