Friday, May 17, 2013


All day I’ve been thinking about collections. I spent the day working with a dear friend, cooking a total of 38 freezer meals for our families and another dear friend who recently had a baby. (We may be sort of generous in our definition of “meal” here. Our freezer stash will help us get through 38 main courses of meals, anyway.) We worked hard making our list, grocery shopping in bulk, looking for deals, and putting it all together. We have a practical collection. A fabulous, tasty collection that will feed our families when we don’t have time to think about it. Our collection will nourish us, our families, and our friends. I think this makes it a good collection.

Olivia's most recent rock collection
My girls have collections, too. Theirs are not practical, and sometimes they annoy me. I find myself finding new locations for rocks out of our driveway because every rock is special and different and needs to be saved in a box or on a shelf, later to be forgotten and tripped on when it falls in my floor. I have to hang on to random wilty dandelions, clovers, and other weeds Olivia picks on the way into the elementary school to pick up her sister. If I “lose” the flower, she cries as if she lost her favorite relative. Rosemary forms fleeting attachments to stuffed animals; as soon as she loses one of these precious friends because she dropped it in the floor while she was busy caring about something else, she becomes an instant nag until the furball of the moment is returned. Olivia has a collection of stickers going right now on the window of our van, right next to her car seat. I imagine me bending over the seats with a paper towel and Goo Gone and scrubbing a lot while my back hurts, but she does love those stickers for now, and I guess they won’t hurt anything.

Tonight for her bedtime story, Olivia asked me to read a book I’ve read to them many, many times.  It’s a Winnie the Pooh book called Good as Gold. In the story, Pooh and his friends set out to chase a rainbow to the end in search of a pot of gold. On the way, though, Piglet finds fool’s gold, Tigger and Roo find a bird’s nest with a broken robin’s egg, and Pooh finds the pot he wanted more than gold: a pot of honey. Owl is disappointed because he was envisioning great riches, but Pooh eats the honey out of his pot, fills it with rainbow berries, and gives Owl a pot and a rainbow, instead of a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. And Owl learns to be satisfied with that. It’s the experience that gives Pooh and his friends their reward, and what meant something to one friend wasn’t the same thing that meant something to another friend.

I know it sounds hokey, but I think I made a connection to my girls while I was reading this book. When Roo crushed the robin’s egg and realized how special a robin’s egg can be, I flashed to Olivia offering me yet another pebble to save. When Pooh drowned himself in the ecstasy of found honey, my mind flashed to Rosemary’s eyes and how they light up as she hugs her favorite animal of the day. For my girls, it’s not the collection that’s as important as the act of experiencing the world for the first time. Their collections nourish their curiosity, their powers of observation, their affection for their surroundings. The remnants of their collections may get in my way sometimes, but the nourishment of their hearts and minds make their collections totally worth it.         

And I am now going to sit on my couch for awhile and NOT cook anything.

What do your kids collect?