My knowledge of the ways of little boys is largely second-hand or academic. One thing I do know is that children like to collect things, especially disgusting things. Partially this knowledge is drawn from my own childhood experience – I myself had a turtle skeleton, complete with shell, which I kept in a cigar box.
Mostly, though, my expectation of what little boys ‘are like’ is drawn from literature – snips, and snails, and puppy dog tails, and all that nonsense. B often reminds me of Tom Sawyer, although I do think it’s his way of crossing his ankle over the opposite knee as if he hadn’t a care in the world. (Which, let’s face it, he doesn’t. Being almost-four is not exactly a high-stress occupation.) Anyway, B has started his own ‘collection’ – he’ll excitedly pick something up off of the sidewalk and exclaim, “Mommy! Look what I found! I’m going to take this home for my collection!!”
As I anticipate the growth of this Collection, I often think of Tom Sawyer and his scheme to avoid whitewashing Aunt Polly’s fence:
He got out his wordly wealth and examined it – bit of toys, marbles and trash, enough to buy an exchange of work maybe, but not half enough to buy so much as half an hour of pure freedom. So he returned his straightened means to his pocket, and gave up the idea of trying to buy boys.
Tom of course cleverly convinces his friends to pay him for the privelege of whitewashing the fence, in exchange for the contents of their pockets:
… Tom had traded the next chance to Billy Fisher for a kite in good repair; and when he played out, Johnny Miller bought in for a dead rat and a string to swing it with … And when the middle of the afternoon came, from being a poor, poverty-stricken boy in the morning, Tom was literally rolling in wealth. He had, besides the things before mentioned, twelve marbles, part of a jew-harp, a piece of blue bottle-glass to look through, a spool cannon, a key that wouldn’t unlock anything, a fragment of chalk, a glass stopper of a decanter, a tin soldier, a couple of tadpoles, six fire-crackers, a kitten with only one eye, a brass door-knob, a dog-collar — but no dog — the handle of a knife, four pieces of orange, and a dilapidated old window sash.
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer – Mark Twain
Happily, B’s collection currently does not include any animals (dead or otherwise), but it’s fairly impressive nonetheless.