Family life

Kids and hoarding: Do you need to worry?

Susan Goldberg's son has the habit of hiding objects all over the house.

Susan

Isaac’s treasure trove of hoarded items. Photo: Susan Goldberg

Thunder Bay, Ont., writer Susan Goldberg is a transplanted Torontonian and one of two mothers to two boys. Follow along as she shares her family’s experiences.

I made a roast for dinner last night, one of the several roasts that came with the quarter-cow we bought a couple of months ago. One of the upsides to having a freezer full of meat (besides, that is, the freezer full of meat—with apologies to you vegetarians) is that I’ve had to learn how to cook new things, like spareribs, and roasts, and beef stock. I’m mastering the “low and slow” method of cooking cheaper cuts of meat: roasting, say, a boneless blade hip roast at 250°C for an hour or so, until its internal temperature reaches 110°, and then blasting it for another 15 minutes or so at 500°, until its internal recipe reaches 130°. Perfect.

But this post isn’t about meat and my new obsession with cooking it. This post isn’t even about the fact that last night, I needed to use my new digital meat thermometre to cook the roast.

This post is about the fact that my new digital meat thermometre was missing because my six-year-old son is an unrepentant magpie.

Read more: How to be a more patient parent >

I wouldn’t say outright that Isaac steals shiny things. But he does borrow them, squirreling them away in several different hiding places. Yesterday, as I ransacked the house for the meat thermometre (perfect bait for my son with its shiny silver cord and pokey bit to stick into the meat, so much like a sword), I found one of my rings in his closet. Under his bed, I found not one, but two pairs of shiny silver fingernail clippers. He takes fancy spiral paperclips from my desk drawers. A month or so ago, I found my engraved silver business-card holder, a gift from a good friend when I started freelancing, tucked behind Isaac’s bookshelf. I put it in my pocket, and pulled it out when he got home from school.

“Isaac,” I said, “guess where I found this?” And he looked at me and a grin spread slowly across his face and he began to giggle and then we laughed and laughed and laughed.

It’s not only silver things. He likes any and all jewellery (like that ring), and rocks and crystals. He likes fossils and sequins and the umbrellas from fancy cocktails. He also likes containers, any kind of tiny box in which you can secret other little treasures. I once received a beautiful carved wooden pen in its own carved wooden case from client; I found it, several nights later, under Isaac’s pillow.

Read more: Kids’ behaviour: 10 things to forgive them for (and why) >

So when, yesterday afternoon, I couldn’t find my meat thermometre, I texted Rachel—at swimming lessons with the boys—to ask if Isaac knew where it might be. He didn’t. He claims not to have any idea where it is. And you know what? That very well may be the case. But somehow I doubt it.

So.

The roast turned out perfectly, even without me knowing it precise internal temperature. I’m still waiting to come across the meat thermometre, tucked away in the back of Isaac’s sock drawer or between the couch cushions for safekeeping, for later, just in case. I suspect my delight in finding it will far outweigh the aggravation of having it “borrowed” in the first place.

Read more: Is my child a hoarder? >

PS: Meat thermometre found! It was—surprise!—tucked underneath a blanket on a chair in Isaac’s room, its shiny silver cord wrapped tightly around it. He just stared at me blankly when I showed it to him. “I didn’t know that was the meat thermometre,” he said. Sigh.

FILED UNDER: