Most stamp collectors collect stamps as a hobby. They seek out the perfect stamp to complete their collection, and revel in the excitement as they carefully place that coveted piece of history in it’s previously designated spot. They have a refined eye to pick out just the right stamp, and could tell you either the monetary value or the era it came from just by looking at it.
When I was three, I collected rocks. I, like the stamp collector, carefully selected my rocks and stored them in my big blue wipe box. Only, instead of the pretty purple and red rocks, I selected the dirtiest, saddest looking rocks. The ones with bits sharply broken from being thrown across the street. The bulky ones that wouldn’t fit in my pockets properly, and the annoying pebble that was rudely evicted from a sneaker moments before. I felt bad for these rocks– being cast away had to hurt their feelings– so it was up to me to scoop them up and give them a home in my wipe bin. Occasionally, family members would find a sparkly rock or a smooth blue one, and I would add that to my collection to let them know I appreciated their contribution, but was shaking my head inside at the wasted space.
Every day, sometimes more than once, I would lock myself in the bathroom, fill the sink up with warm water, and dump my rocks in with a great crack! I would sigh as the water would turn murky, and scrub each rock with the care of a worn out mother. Soaping them down with a bar of soap, I would inwardly chide the rocks for being so dirty, before drying them off with the hand towel, and placing them to bed softly back in the wipes bin.
These weren’t rocks that would be put on display in a museum, or even on my dresser, because to me they weren’t rocks– they were orphans. Dusty orphans that required many baths. About once a week, right as my bin was getting hard to close, I would notice that I lost about half of the rocks to the garden. Somebody (I suspect my parents) would thin out my supply, only to have it be refilled by the week’s end. But I, as faithfully as a farmer pulling weeds, would trudge back outside to find my orphan rocks, dust them off, give them a good bath, and a nice, plastic place to sleep.