I was one of these, a collector kid. I still am. As a kid I collected rocks, and, once in awhile, tiny frogs (although I found out you have to feed them bugs instead of grass). Eventually my collecting pretty much centered on rocks. But collecting rocks is actually a fairly common hobby, and not every collector collects the ordinary items. For instance, my daughter Ashley briefly collected blades of grass from places that meant something to her. Case in point: a blade of grass from Elvis’ grave at Graceland. I thought that was very creative and definitely original collecting.
So I decided to address common things people collect while emphasizing that it’s very okay to collect things a bit out of the ordinary. I wrote a poem called ‘Collector Kid’ and focused on those uncommon items that might interest collectors. The ultimate message was that collecting things that others might consider ‘weird’ just makes you unique, and unique is good.
In my research into what kids like to read about and talk about, I learned that trading cards are popular and decided to use that as my hook. I have some baseball cards of my own, most of them featuring the great Roberto Clemente who I had talked about in my episode on baseball heroes. I also have some cards that are just odds and ends. So to prepare, I needed to order some small sets I could display. I ordered some Disney cards and My Little Pony, and then ordered some animal cards. I was surprised when my animal set didn’t come with actual cards, but rather a map of the world with QR codes you can scan and basically pull up electronic cards with information on each animal. I downloaded the app that comes with the set, and I could scan animals from country to country. I decided these would be good to show yet another way to collect.
But I knew that no presentation would be complete without Pokémon cards, and I wasn’t keen on spending the money you need to lay out for those popular sets. As luck would have it, just days before I wanted to do this episode, MacDonald’s helped me out by putting Pokémon cards in their Happy Meals. Bruce and I polished off six Happy Meals to get six packs of cards. That truly was good luck. I didn’t open any of the packs beyond the two I wanted to open beforehand to familiarize myself with the cards. Pokémon was a new experience for me. I wanted my little viewers to go along on my journey of discovery, and let them ‘help’ me open the Disney, My Little Pony and a couple of packs of the Pokémon cards.
I had a good time doing this one, and began by showing things people might collect, such as teddy bears, coins, etc. Then we moved on to the cards. I read my poem and ended by again making the point that it’s okay to be different in your choice of collectibles, hoping that the idea broadened to the fact that it’s okay to be different, period. I was bullied as a kid; I had a southern accent as a transplanted Tennessean and never really grew out of my awkward stage (still haven’t). As a teacher, it broke my heart every time I saw an awkward child who was essentially being punished daily by classmates who didn’t appreciate the uniqueness and nonconformity. So any inroads I can make with my very young viewers in reinforcing that differences are good, I will make at every opportunity. ❤️