In most parts of the English speaking world, pleonexia refers to “excessive or insatiable covetousness.” In this part of the world, however, it is just one of the stages of childhood. For children in this country, simply being between the ages of six and sixteen (sixty, for some) means that the drive to acquire new stuff is as strong as the drive to eat, sleep and reproduce is for the rest of us. For them, “want” and “need” are not merely siblings, they are Siamese twins: one cannot go anywhere without the other.
Think about it: children never want anything; they need it.
“Can we got to Kohl’s this weekend? I need some shirts.”
“What’s wrong with all of your other shirts?”
“I can’t find them.”
(This is a particular subset of pleonexia–excessive or insatiable covetousness for the things you already own but cannot find because they are buried underneath all of your other stuff. I call it re-pleonexia: the excessive urge to acquire the same thing twice.)
For my kids, re-pleonexia is especially prevalent in the summer, when sleep overs become so common that I begin to forget exactly which children–and therefore which posessions–are mine. (The answer is usually the same for both: the bad ones.). I don’t understand it: there are always the same number of kids in my house (I think this is part of the Fire Department’s two in, two out rule), but the names and faces keep changing. Sometimes, in fact, I can only tell which children are not mine by asking them a simple yes/no question. (The ones who respond with a “please” or a “thank you” are definitely visitors.)
The other way to tell if a child belongs to me is by asking them if they are currently in possession of a toothbrush, a pillow, or a swimsuit. Again, only visiting children will answer in the affirmative. My children, on the other hand, will just shrug their shoulders and say, “I dunno. I guess I need a new one.”
I’ve heard that some Appalachian Trail through hikers shave down the handles of their toothbrushes to save a few ounces of weight on the 2000 mile trail. To them I say: ha! That’s nothing: my kids shave their toothbrushes down to non-existence for a trip around the corner. Of course, my kids also shave down their pillows and swimsuits to nothingness, as well.
Which is why they need new ones.
In the winter I’ve often been tempted to purchase gloves by the truckload and airdrop them across the entire city, thereby assuring myself that at least one pair will find its way onto the hands of one of my children.
Curiously, I have never been tempted to do the same thing with the possessions that go missing in the summer. Maybe this is because I know that, with most of the missing items, this method would be disastrous. Take swimsuits, for example. With gloves you’re only trying to cover your hands. With swimsuits–well, you see the problem. (Or you would.) And then, of course, there’s people’s reactions to finding bikini bottoms dangling off of their balconies and car antennae. Id’ hate to be the sole cause of the divorce rate doubling overnight.
And as far as a toothbrush drop–I can’t even get my kids to use a toothbrush once it has fallen on the floor, let alone the ground. (Of course, have you seen my floor lately? Yeah, me neither).
That just leaves a pillow drop. Which actually sounds like a good idea. And kind of fun. Meaning, of course, that it is probably neither.
Kind of like pleonexia itself.