Monday, November 22, 2010

Oh, I Love Trash

Ryan is fascinated with trash cans. This fascination first developed, not surprisingly, when he discovered our automatic kitchen trash can. When he grabs at it on his way past, it magically opens, and as he peers inside in amazement, it closes again. He is completely awed and mystified by this. He discovered he can make it open by waving his spoon at it. He often tries to dive in and rescue various items. (This is highly discouraged by his mother.) But this is not the only trash can in the house that holds him in its thrall.

The trash can in his bedroom is also fascinating in its own right. It doesn’t open and close on its own, but it’s short enough that he can see inside it and it’s lightweight enough that he can knock it over and explore its contents at his leisure. It tends to contain interesting things like cardboard clothing tags, used tissues, and the occasional plastic wrapper from a diaper pack. Sometimes it even has a sticker from the diaper wipes container. There is endless amusement to be found in the nursery trash can.

But I think his new favorite is the tall green plastic trash can in the basement playroom. It’s tall enough that he can’t see into it without standing on his tiptoes and leaning over the edge, but he can easily reach over the top to drop various things into it. And he does. I’ve rescued more things than I can count from that trash can: balls, rings, a toy phone, the Barbie jeep, innumerable spit rags, the occasional stuffed animal. Every time I empty that trash can I have to sift through the contents to make sure I’m not about to throw away something that wasn’t meant to be discarded. And he has as much fun rescuing things from that trash can as he does throwing things away. That trash can tends to contain unusually fascinating items like the cardboard and plastic wrapper from a pallet of soda cans, empty plastic bottles from pool chemicals, birdseed bags, and almost always at least one soda can. How could he possibly resist the temptation to dumpster dive with a treasure trove like that waiting for him?

And on top of all the fascinating treasures that he’s likely to find, the best part is the reaction he gets from Mom and Dad, whether he’s throwing away things that aren’t meant to be thrown away or retrieving stuff that isn’t meant to be retrieved. He can always count on one or the other of us diving at him with a loud, excited, “No!” And if we take out what he’s just thrown away, it becomes a game of him trying to throw it away again every time we retrieve it. And if we throw away what he’s just retrieved, it becomes a game of him trying to retrieve it again. He finds it as endlessly amusing as we find it endlessly frustrating.

But short of inventing a locking trash can (and don’t think I haven’t considered it), I think for now I’ll just have to settle for keeping my eye on the trash can in whatever room Ryan happens to be in, and for carefully checking the contents of every trash can every time I empty it. I’m sure this fascination will be replaced by another before long, and he’ll soon forget about the trash can game.

And in the meantime, at least now I have a theory about what happened to that pair of socks that went missing, and the toy hammer that seems to have disappeared, and the birthday card I was saving to go in his baby book that’s nowhere to be found…

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