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Ezra the Collector

This post is sponsored by Citrus Lane.

First of all, I would like to establish OUT LOUD that this is a safe space, and more specifically, this is a safe space where we can open up and admit that yeah, our kids are weirdos.

Even more specifically, Ezra is a weirdo. Like kind of a weird-y weird level weirdo.

I don’t know how to describe this one particular behavior he exhibits (and has exhibited for YEARS) without referring to the name of a popular yet distastefully horrifying reality show on A&E, so maybe this picture will give you an idea of what I’m dancing around:

Hey, Ezra! What have you got in your pocketses today? 

Ezra pocketsEzra pockets 2

20 minutes later, I think the pile ended up being 27 tiny Lego bricks, studs, berries, croissants, mugs, chalices, various non-Lego thingamajobs and two lint-backed pumpkin stickers that he got around Halloween.

And every single item is a treasure. His preciousesss. And every single item must be checked and accounted for several times a day, until he forgets about the entire collection completely. Which usually happens right around the time he tosses his five-pocket cargo pants into the laundry hamper. Because by that point, he’s moved on to a collection of slightly larger plastic sundries inside a coin purse, empty tissue box, or Ike’s talking plastic picnic basket that no longer contains any of the plastic picnic items, because Ezra has filled it to the brim with even more tiny Legos, three rubber scoops of play ice cream, a spatula, seven toy cars and a handful of broken crayons that he deliberately fished out of the trash when I wasn’t looking and is now guarding with his very life.

Jason just up and flat-out calls him a hoarder. (Affectionately! I swear. It’s not like we’re finding cat carcasses in his bed. Just all the baby books from Ike’s room, a bunch of Smurf figurines and maybe a Happy Meal box.)

I just think the kid likes…containers. Containers full of things. He’s like a pirate with a very DIY aesthetic and original take on the boring-and-done treasure chest. Gold coins? Whatever. Check out these extra stomp rockets and this roll of packing tape! WE’RE GOING TO BE RICH.

Ezra lego bag

(Ezra, pictured here in Oversized Container Full of Tiny Things & Also Ezra Heaven.)

Over Christmas break, he stumbled across a backpack that I’d bought for him to take on long car trips. I guess he thought I’d thrown it out or something (LIKE I DO WITH BROKEN CRAYONS AND PROBABLY EVERYTHING ELSE HE LOVES), and was so, so happy to see it again that he insisted on wearing it nonstop for three days straight. At the dinner table. While playing outside. To restaurants. To bed.

So I wasn’t too surprised when school started back up, he insisted on carrying the backpack. Now, Ezra does not NEED a backpack at his preschool — in fact, backpacks are explicitly listed as something the children are to leave at home. But Ezra really, REALLY wanted to take that backpack to school, like his big brother.

So I let him take the backpack to school. Because I have better things to do in the morning than get locked in a battle of wills over a backpack with a four year old. Like, say, NOT getting locked in a battle of wills over a backback with a four year old. 

Over time, the backpack went from being empty to…well, becoming yet another one of Ezra’s containers of weird. He added a notebook and some pencils...and then some finger puppets, a sandwich cookie cutter and the instruction booklet from our microwave. 

So I realized we maybe needed to curb the backpack habit, especially since I learned he was refusing to take it off once he got to school. And while his teacher was completely understanding and accommodating of the backpack, he was a little less excited about the daily show-and-tell of broken pencils, Legos, empty DVD cases and talking Elmo phones.

It was right around this time that I agreed to do a sponsored blog post for Citrus Lane, which sends out age-appropriate, monthly curated boxes of eco-friendly baby and kid gear, toys, bath products, you name it. They sent me a couple sample boxes. One for Ezra and one for Ike, IN THEORY. In reality, once I opened the boxes, they were both Ezra's. All his. Because they were...containers. Full of…things. Bath toys! Books! Fruit snacks! Monkey dishware! Lotions and bath soaps and AHHHHHH!!!!

As I watched him paw through the assortment of surprises, I suddenly realized that I should have boxed and wrapped all his Christmas presents into a similar single box o' wonder. 

Among the bonanza of items in our boxes was…a Skip Hop elephant lunch bag. Ezra just about passed out. A small…Ezra-sized…container…with a handle…for carrying…for which to put things inside…lunch-y things…omg

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Now, again: Ezra does not need a lunch bag. He eats a school-provided snack mid-morning, then comes home at noon and eats lunch here.  

But some kids in his class stay all day. And these kids do indeed bring lunch bags/boxes, which they deposit into a classroom fridge each morning as they arrive. And it turns out that more than anything — even more than a backpack full of Monopoly pieces, miniature rubber tires and plastic teacups — Ezra wanted to join them. To be like them. 

He didn't actually care about the actually eating lunch at school part, but just the morning ritual of putting lunchboxes inside the refrigerator. This is what makes you "cool," apparently, in today's modern trend-setting with-it-happening Montessori classroom. He even tried to put his backpack in the fridge on several occasions, and then tried to talk his teacher into letting him at least put some random pieces of toy fruit in there instead.

In other words, this lunch bag from Citrus Lane was the greatest gift that never would have occurred to me to buy for him, but there it is. 

IMG_3004

(So long, Play-Doh carrying case! We are moving. On. Up.)

Ezra still doesn’t stay at school for lunch, but every morning he packs up his lunch bag. He gets real sippy cup and fills it with water and shovels some Cheerios into a baggie. Then he adds two ice packs and a few extra essentials.

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(Essentials like: Toy milk, wooden donut w/back-up icing slab, Lego construction worker, plastic pepperoni slices, felt tomato, some kind of stuffed lettuce pillow thing, sandwich roll and an entire Thanksgiving turkey.)

He takes it to school and puts it in the refrigerator, where it sits untouched (and non-distracting-like) all day. I arrive at noon to collect him and his lunch bag (which before I took these photos had just emerged from a vigorous cleaning after being sent down the playground slide into a mud puddle, because it and Ezra are best pals). Then we go home, where he dutifully unpacks everything and puts it all back in its proper place. 

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He’s never been happier, the goof. 

***

Want your own box of random inspiration and handy essentials for your own little weirdo? Leave a comment between now and next Wednesday and I will select a random winner for a FREE box of awesome from Citrus Lane. 

"BUT I NEVER WIN." Dude, I know! Me neither! But for us, here's a coupon for 50% off your first box — that's only $12.50! TWELVE FIFTY. After that, monthly boxes of baby-, kid- and mom-approved products and toys start at just $21. Head over to citruslane.com and use coupon code AMALAH50 from now until March 6th.

Fine print: Coupon applies to monthly subscriptions only. Offer valid for new customers only. Subscriptions automatically renew to full retail price.

Comments

Claire

Lets be honest here folks, I would get pretty excited for a Skip Hop lunch box too. :)

Liz K

My kids would love this!

Jen

As a child, I had a special collection of brightly colored paper clips.

Bonnie

I was SO one of those kids. And my little weirdos would love a Box of Things!

Debra

My son hordes everything in his bed. I'm constantly worried he'll be smothered by his sister's cast off stuffed animals.

Leslie

Thanks for the giveaway!

Liv

My two year old is just like this. Lately he's been collecting rocks at recess and storing them in his jacket pocket to be emptied out when he gets home into a special little bucket. I have no idea what we're going to do when the bucket gets full...

katie

Dude, I never win!!

Shelly T.

My 2.5 year old loooooves bags and containers, and also likes to put random things in them and carry them around. Weirdo kids of the world, unite!

Kate L.

Love love LOVE Citrus Lane. We've been subscribers from basically the start, and they are wonderful. Amazing customer service, too.

We have the bee version of the elephant lunchie (two, actually), but OMG the elephant is just beyond cute.

Sarah Abbott

Wow I think our boys would be besties! I just had a talk with my son about his "collections" taking over his room.

Stacia

My daughter is a hoarder too and I totally won't win this but why not try, huh?! HUH?!

Lauren

I loved reading this! We have received Citrus Lane before, and if we win, this will be a gift for a friend with a new one. On more than one occasion, they have read my or my child's mind.

Steph B

I would love a free box of awesome stuff for my two boys. :)

mrspooley

My son (5) has a penchant for rocks, Squinkies, and every single piece of paper he's ever touched at kindergarten. No scrap can be thrown away!

Re

I've been reading for YEARS and am finally compelled to comment, not for the schwag but because Ezra is so adorable. He sees the beauty and value in the littlest, most forgettable things. Too sweet.

Caitlin

I never win either, but I always try!

Bessa

My third is like that - he can't sleep without all his lovies. I had to limit him to 3 special requests (plus pillow & blanket). Oh the drama.
I hope to win this for my forthcoming baby girl, though. I threw away most of my pink stuff after 2 boys. Well, in my defense, most of it got destroyed between my eldest girl and now this girl...

Lauren

My little just-turned-one is doing this already! She can't even walk yet, but this morning she crawled/dragged a cardboard box filled with soda cans, balls, dolls, and other treasures all over the house. She would love some new treasures to add to her collection.

Qatey

Oh my goodness, I have a little hoarder too! Junk mail has now become Jillian mail.

Colleen

In desperate need of anything that will occupy my 18 month old for more than 5 minutes!

Lindsay

This is awesome. I have a little "hoarder" of my own. I SO hope your random computer-generator-of-awesome picks me! :)

Rebecca

I would love it! I would also love it if my baby would put things into containers, rather than taking all the things out of all the containers.

Paige

This makes me feel much less alone; my son shares Ezra's Strange Addiction.

Martha

You have written a post about my life. My 4yo won't even leave any pillowcases on his pillows because they are actually containers for all the wonderous treasures too. Nightly I find tiny bags, cardboard jewelry boxes and pillowcases clutched in his little fist as he sleeps, full of his random ephemera (including the PAPER WRAPPERS from the broken crayons that I tossed when he wasn't looking). I'm assuming most kids outgrow this obsessive collecting at a certain point? Right?

cammie

Ezra and my daughter would be the perfect match! She million of random bags full of random crap all over the house. Please, she needs more bags!

Michele

And here I thought it was only my kids who carry around random collections!

Brigid Keely

We have halloween jackolantern shaped treat buckets and a plush easter basket that fill the same need for my kid.

Sarah Richter

That is amazing! Pick me please :)

Jen V

Glad I'm not the only mother of a hoarder weirdo. Please pick me to win so I can encourage the weirdo behavior.

Elizabeth

We have a little hoarder...ahem collector at our house too. Everything from refrigerator magnets to used band-aids! Her pockets are always stuffed with the strangest things. Love my little weirdo though!

sarabean

I have a weirdo too! I got her one of those multiple-all-snap-together-lunch-organizer things. Adores it!

JulesInFL

This sounds wonderful! My friends just signed me up for a similar monthly box of beauty goodies, and I am positively EZRA-like with giddy anticipation!

Heather

Love it. All kids are weird. For real.

Leslie

Mine does this too. A box of stuff would be awesome!

Dawn

OMG, Ezra is my Noah only...Ezra. And this is Noah to a 'T' - PACK ALL THE THINGS. I don't know how long I've been trying to clean out the toy box now. Sigh....

And thank you for the coupon link. His little head just might explode with joy!

Jenn S

we already have a subscription for our son but are expecting a new little one now and would love to win a box for him/her! (ps - we LOVE Cutrus Lane. so much!)

Diane

ooh I have been curious about Citrus Lane! I have 2 little hoarders as well. I have to keep my purse well hidden or it becomes a storage container.

Heather

I also have a 3.5 year old weirdo of my very own. He would love to win a citrus lane pack!

Kate

My nephew, Roland Danger, would pack and unpack the HECK out of a lunchbox.

Sarah

LOL - that is super cute. :) I love the lunch box that he got though. I can see my son doing that with his backpack (although he cares more about wearing it than putting anything in it)

Stephanie

My 4.5yo daughter likes to hoard too. And gets upset if I discard any of her treasures ... I'd be thrilled with a Skiphop lunchbox!!!

Jessica

I bought that same lunch box for Jacob when he started school. We have to drive 20 minutes, so somedays it does contain a lunch, but he doesn't eat at school. He loves it though, and brings it even if he's already had lunch most days.

Erin

I would absolutely love this for my kids! What a great idea even for birthday gifts for other families!

Shelly

Huh! My daughter has done this for years! She is 10 now but since she's my only, I never knew it was weird! Thanks for letting me know! LOL!

Sarah

I like free!!!

Anne

My guy is to little to be a hoarder yet (almost 1) but he sure likes everything he can find that is not a toy way better than the actual toys...scaps of paper, straws, plastic kitchenware, wipe containers& the list goes on.

Susan

What a cutie!

Tara

Oh man. My 3 year old weirdo would love one of these boxes of goodness.

Shera

Too cute! I would love to try this for my daughter.

Susan

my 5 year old is exactly like this. Somehow the hoarding gene missed my 3 year old, though ...

Lauren

My middle kid was like that too - we called him "The Clepto."

Also? *I* want the owl lunch box. I hate being a grown up.

TinaPowe

Both my 4 yr old son and his "monkey see, monkey do" 2 yr old little sister have the same hobby/hoarding addiction as Ezra!

Jess

Dude. I never win anything. But I keep trying, Yo Gabba Gabba style. Citrus Lane sounds awesome. The only thing my 16 month-old currently collects is wads of gross half-chewed food in his little squirrel cheeks.

Kim W.

When one of my boys was 3 or 4 he was doing this too. But he would put the boxes in other boxes in bags in bags in boxes and stash them under the bed or couch or chair or whatever. But they were so precious that I wasn't allowed to touch them.

My friend referred to children at this stage as "masters of object displacement."

Suzy Q

That Ezra, he is SO FUN!

Sarah Obare

I never win, but it's always worth a try:)

Little Neddie

That lunchbox is adorable! The kid ain't half bad either...
Please pick me!!!

Christina

Just sub out my second son's name for Ezra because you were writing about my Joseph too. We took our "empty" explorer bags on a hike though Joseph had already filled his with two dinosaurs, a couple of hot wheels, a flashlight and two or three more random things. Of course, daddy carried the bag : )

Suzy Q

Saw this on Twitter:

"Weird is just a side effect of being awesome."

That's The Mighty Za.

JenVegas

Man, I am so glad you posted this because my kid is obsessed with containers too and I thought maybe he was alone in this weirdness. I really love this idea of $20 for a box of stuff every month. I would like your coupon to be redeemable next year though when we are done with our mortgage application & buying a house financial lockdown though. Right now I'm glad he likes empty boxes because that shit is cheap!

Kristi A.

Pick me pick me!! My girly girl with mounds of pretties...and a few hundred shoes would go crazy!!!

Shannon

Yes. This. This is my daughter. Any and every purse, bag, container, dish or bowl ends up holding the most random objects. The other day I picked her up from my MIL's house and she had collected snack bags and tissues...each bag had a tissue. And we were not to disturb it. Thanks for sharing!

Hannah

My 5-year-old niece is a bag lady. No playtime is complete without 3-5 different bags full of...nothing in particular. Weird thought it may be, it's definitely a family trait. My sister and I enjoy nothing more than a tote bag or gigantic purse.

emily

What a cute story about Ezra - I love that he "packs his lunch" every day.

Jessica

My little hoarders would LOVE a box of goodness!

Suzette

Love this!! My daughter has so many little bags and purses and totes.

Jen.

Yeah. I have one of those, including Every.Single.Lego.box/bag.ever.received. Sigh.

Danyelle

Oh my, I have a 3yo named Maggie who may be Ezra'a match as far as hoarding and weirdo tendencies go.

Michelle

My 3 year old Quinn is just like this. He seeks out bags of all sizes and likes to fill them with "his work stuff" or "homework" and carry them everywhere. Currently, he is carrying a small sparkly pink purse to everything :)

Stacy

It's like Birchbox but for kiddos! How awesome is that? Very.

Elizabeth

Omg! My daughter does the same thing!!! We have a million purses and bags for her. She always wants to carry the most random things!

Elisha

Pick me pick me!!! Withy hand waving frantically back and forth! I have an almost 2 year old and four year old! It's cold outside in NJ we need new stuff!!!
Love you!

Donna

WOW, COOL!

Johanna Moyal

i love that he has to take his "lunch" like the other kids

Katie B

This looks like so much fun!

Katy

my son is a weird little collector, too. i'd love one of these boxes

Wendy

Ok, I really never win, but whatever, still worth a shot. My daughter also loves collecting things in containers... Fortunately, she's, well, a she, so that is often a purse. Which, face it, is just a chick's method of doing exactly what Ez is doing. Get him a man bag, for crying out loud. :)

kari weber

Niether of my kids has a thing about collecting stuff like Ezra, however, they both have a thing about putting stuff everyhwhere! And my youngest is pretty infatuated with LEGO men and LEGO motorcycles. And LEGO "Scuper-diving-packs"...
So you know.
I would love to try Citrus Lane!

beth

Dude. Did you not realize what the key phrase in that post was?

Montessori.Classroom.

Where ALL things reside in collections, and those collections reside in baskets.

Pretty please make him a Montessori shelf at home.

Just google - they're super easy to put together!

emah

My one-year-old is OBSESSED with putting things in other things and then taking them out and then putting them back. Right now we have a shape-sorter box on the playroom floor with an outlet cover, some butt paste, toy lettuce, 2 blocks, and my phone in it. I'm waiting until she's been at sleep for at least 2 hours before I unpack it.

Laurie

I mean this in the most non-stalkerish way possible. My Benjamin and Ezra would be best friends.

Kate

I too have a hoarder! My 9 year old has obsessively collected all his preciouuuuussssses for YEARS. Since early-toddlerhood, at least.

One time when he was around 4, his allergies started becoming HORRENDOUS at home. I couldn't figure it out! I steam cleaned and vacuumed his carpet obsessively, cleaned out all his drawers, and yet it continued. Finally, after a week or so of constant, horrible allergy attacks, I went and bought a super expensive hypoallergenic mattress cover and pillow set. When I went to put it on the bed...there lay, cleverly hidden under the mattress, the largest fucking supply of dandelions and weeds (and rocks and stems and handfuls of grass) you've ever seen. He'd apparently been pocketing them at outside time at pre-school, and unloading them at home. His whole bed and underside of his mattress was covered in pollen.

Also, when we moved when he was 6, when cleaning out the dreaded depths of his closet, I found 100 or so random pieces of trash (bottle caps, scraps of paper, old knobs from replaced cabinets, etc) and a petrified KFC biscuit.

Melanie

I want one!

bookgirl

One of my nephews was the 'hoarder' of small and wonderous treasures. He carried a tile from a backsplash project in his pocket for weeks. If it was small could fit in his pocket and he could hold and finger it, well then by god it was HIS.

Julie

Ok, I have to admit I love random boxes of nifty stuff too. It would be cool to get a surprise one in the mail, especially if it were a free sample!

Megan

We could certainly use a box of awesome around these parts...

Deedee

This sounds absolutely perfect for our almost- three-year-old grandson who seems to be following in Ezra's footsteps!

Abby

Totes dorb, totes relate.

Heather Venator

Too stinkin' cute!

Sarah

Both my kids have done the collections in random objects thing, and my five-year-old still can't bear for me to throw away anything (including his socks which have huge holes in them).

Ellie

Oh the glee! I really think insulated lunch boxes don't need to go in the refrigerator, but I wouldn't argue with a fake lunch!

Kate

Those boxes seem so cool!

Kate

My Liam is the same way; he carries a box of stuff around with him everywhere. What hadn't occured to me is that this is why he loves his lunchbox so much. They just extended his school day through lunch and the first couple of days he cried when he had to set his lunchbox down for the pre-lunch sensory break in the motor room.

whitney petch

That is brilliant! Ezra is totally adorable!

Jenn S

I'd love one for my own little weirdo. :)

T_Bun

So cute!

SarahRS

My guy loves bags too.

jaclynn Beaudette

My four year old also loves containers and the smallest easy to loss most impossible to find, but I-must-have-it-NOW toys too.

Amy

Must be the age! I have a little hoarder too. And, God forbid I ever try to throw anything away. Anyway, thanks for the chance to win!

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