This post has been floating around in my head for a while now. Even though I'm still not sure I can adequately articulate the humble of thoughts I've been unraveling, an incident today has it spilling out.
Out of nowhere this afternoon, Scooter started in on a particular toy he needed. And it wasn't even that he wanted it for his birthday. He wanted it today. Logic--that toy isn't made anymore; regardless of whether or not it still exists, we couldn't get it today; regardless of all that, we weren't just buying him a toy and he didn't have enough of his own money to buy it--could not calm him in any way, and we found ourselves facing a larger meltdown than we've seen for a while.
The standard take on such meltdowns almost always include some riff on the "spoiled only child" theme. (I'm waiting to see if this will be what pushes me into tears at the next IEP meeting, as I weepily yell that this is not by design. Anyway...)
But this is not simply an issue of having a male Veruca Salt. Sure there are plenty of times that he wants something and then pouts when he doesn't get it. With incidents like today's, however, there's a different undertone, an urgency and anxiety that feels different than simple desire. I think I understand this, but I'm not sure how well I can convey it to people who don't regularly experience this.
I generally frame the fact that I have become more reflective of my purchases as an environmental issue, a desire to consume less--and it is. Yet in many ways, that I have reduced general acquisitions is more amazing because it signifies my ability to talk myself out of the compulsion to collect. While I have never been a full-blown packrat, I have a very hard time letting go of anything and usually feel a need to have more.
More specifically, this tends to manifest as a need to fill out collections. It can be ridiculous stuff, like toys from a fast-food restaurant that form a series. Even now, when I look at the little brochures that come with Legos and Playmobils, I can't help but think, "This set would be great, and then we could get this, which means we'd need this other thing, and then..." As an adult, I can quickly see that my thoughts are ridiculous and quell them before they fully set, but Scooter isn't quite there yet.
This sort of frantic, desperate need for things is not just about wanting the item in question, but rather a manifestation of anxiety. Obtaining a desired object creates some order in an otherwise frustrating and uncertain world. Stuff is concrete; it will still be there even when other things do not happen as expected. It can be rearranged, put in order, put away, brought back out. More anxiety, get more stuff.
If only it were that simple.