Stick significance


Right next to our front door there’s an ever present collection of sticks. Our 5-year-old son Pim is like a dog, seriously! Every time we go to the park, he will find a stick and insists on taking it home. Some of them are too big for him to carry alone, so he has to convince his big sister to help him.
Because I don’t allow them in our house, the sticks are displayed right next to the front door — which is the closest the sticks will get to his bed, because he would take them up there if he could, I am sure about it. My husband once threw away all the sticks, which was a mistake — Pim was inconsolable and I admit that even I was upset. Those sticks seriously meant so much to him!

Emilie sent me the link to this interesting article in the Guardian last week. Hannah Evans is a mother of three boys and her article did shed some light on my little boy and his stick obsession. I quote:

‘And thus, sticks. For I have learned that boys like, nay love, sticks. But a stick to a boy is far, far more than an inanimate object. A stick is a toy, a weapon, a friend and a foe. A stick is adventure, possibilities, destruction and danger. A stick is, in the right time and place – or even better, in the wrong – everything.’

And:

‘”Stick significance” is part and parcel of being a boy. And so, “Will you put that bloomin’ stick down … it’s only a bit of wood!” is a bit like telling me that my coffee would taste just as good out of any old mug.’

And so they stay, the sticks, next to our front door. And the collection grows. Do you have a son (or daughter) who collects sticks too?

xxx Esther

31 COMMENTS - Add your own

1. Jackie van den Bergh | January 17, 2013 | Reply

We dont have a stick collector in our house but a stone collector. Every one of her coat pockets is full of them, every pocket in her school bag, all of my pockets as she “really needs” these ones. Maybe I need to have a place by the door :-)

2. Esther in Amsterdam | January 17, 2013

Oh yes, stones as well, in lesser amounts. I keep finding them in the washing machine…

3. Marta | January 17, 2013 | Reply

Glad to see I’m not the only one with this doubt! My son loves sticks, stones and leaves, not very easy when he wants to keep them all in a tiny flat in a big city! :)

4. Louise Hannon | January 17, 2013 | Reply

I love this! I have a five year old boy also with a stick obsession and we have a stick pile by the front door for the same reason(as well as various collections in the car, around the garden, the bottom of the buggy..you get the picture..) so glad its not just us!! thank you for posting!

5. Esther in Amsterdam | January 17, 2013

There are always some sticks in the bottom of our buggy. :)

6. Pam | January 17, 2013 | Reply

Yes! I thought we were the only ones with what’s starting to resemble a beaver dam next to our front door. In fact, this afternoon my son suddenly stopped in the middle of the street because he spotted a “perfect” stick to add to the collection. His little sister copies him, so we are worried if we’ll even be able to open our front door anymore. However, we don’t have the heart to throw them away.

7. Esther in Amsterdam | January 17, 2013

Haha, I love that, a beaver dam. Yes, that’s exactly what it looks like. LOL

8. Estelle | January 17, 2013 | Reply

Oh yes, the stick obsession! My eldest is 5 and had a serious collection. Each one has a memory attached, where it was found, what he was doing at the time. I don’t know how I’ll bring myself to dispose of them, but we have enough for a small bonfire now!

9. Christy | January 17, 2013 | Reply

My 4.5 year old daughter has a serious rock obsession. We limit her to picking just one every place we go, otherwise we would be overrun! I get the fascination with the pretty ones, but the gravel stones??? I must say, keeping a collection by the front door is inspired. I am thinking perhaps a bin or bucket by our garage door just might do the trick.

10. Emilie in Paris | January 17, 2013

I hear you! Coco used to pick up handful of gravel from all the parks in Paris. When she wanted to give me a present, she would present me with a few gravel pieces, as if they were diamonds!

11. Marion | January 17, 2013 | Reply

Oh yes, sticks wherever we go is my two boys’ mantra!!

12. Rebecca | January 18, 2013 | Reply

My 4 year old son also loves to collect sticks, stones, leaves and flowers! The flowers are always for me! He keeps his on his treasure shelf in his room (if they fit) and I often seeing him checking that they are all still there…

13. Vanessa | January 18, 2013 | Reply

Thank you for writing this Esther. My daughter collects all sorts on a walk – sticks, stones and the latest was a kruis sleutel saying it was the pirates x marks the cross! Now that I’ve read Hannah Evans article I shall have so much more sympathy for her collections and may just hold on to them a little longer – to save the tears!!

14. Carmen | January 18, 2013 | Reply

My 7-year old boy is very much into the stick/stone/shell/leaves thing. We have a good collection and it would not be a surprise that I open my bag in the office and find many of these. Thank you!

15. Helen | January 18, 2013 | Reply

My 5 yo daughter often brings home a stick, we have a collection on our front window sill. She also (still) collects stones and other random playground finds. Do you know this book? http://www.harpercollins.com/browseinside/index.aspx?isbn13=9780061123252

16. Esther in Amsterdam | January 18, 2013

No, not yet! I’ll order it now — thank you!

17. Marie | January 18, 2013 | Reply

I also have a collector here :) therefore I discover that:
http://www.facebook.com/#!/media/set/?set=a.362453870443430.84001.208080115880807&type=3
and couldn’t hide it to my clients :)

18. Esther in Amsterdam | January 18, 2013

Oh my gosh Marie, that is BRILLIANT!! Pim would LOVE that!!!

19. Marie | January 22, 2013

Can you send me your adress by pm?

20. El Thomson | January 18, 2013 | Reply

Yes, children love sticks. My five-year-old daughter has always been fond of collecting sticks. Whenever we go on walks, we come home with more than a few. The boot of our car, our bike trailer and various backpacks are always full of sticks of various sizes and shapes.

21. Siobhan | January 18, 2013 | Reply

I have to admit, I’m a bit obsessed with sticks! Well, driftwood really. Any chance I get when I am back in Ireland, I collect so much of it and stuff my suitcase with it. The husband just rolls his eyes and thinks I’m a bit weird!

22. Esther in Amsterdam | January 22, 2013

Driftwood can be beautiful!

23. Polona from Baby Jungle | January 19, 2013 | Reply
24. Esther in Amsterdam | January 22, 2013

Love this. I’ve been thinking of doing something like that for ages!

25. Barbara | January 20, 2013 | Reply

I love this post. It made me smile, thank you for sharing! My son loves sticks and so does his dad! I think a boy never really grows out of his love for sticks. My husband says he’s collecting them for “kindling” but I know he just loves gathering and collecting his sticks…fireplace or not. xo

26. Meaghan Roozen | January 20, 2013 | Reply

I love this post and love that Pim likes to collect sticks. I to love bringing a good stick home once in a while :)

27. Judith | January 20, 2013 | Reply

Hi Esther, there is a book we all love called “Stanley’s Stick” by Neal Layton and John Hegley. It is such a beautiful book on the subject !
xxx Judith

28. Esther in Amsterdam | January 22, 2013

Thank you Judith! I will have a look at that. xxx

29. Berlin Kangaroo | January 22, 2013 | Reply

Thanks for posting this….Harry (almost 4) loves sticks and we also don’t allow sticks in the house so the pile beside the front door grows (I sneak some for kindling occasionally), the boot of my car has a collection of them too.
We have just returned from 2 months in Australia where Harry was disciplined by other children to put sticks down….. the rule there is no sticks in the playground and Harry found the rule so harsh that he wanted to go on our ‘next big walk’ with a family that did not have kids so that he could play with sticks again.
Right now I’m delighted that playing with a stick wins over a commercial toy…. but the flashing lights and screens are beckoning.

30. Esther in Amsterdam | February 5, 2013

I can sort of understand the no stick rule — just for playgrounds of course — they can be dangerous if used as swords too vividly! :)

31. Nina Aziz | February 8, 2013 | Reply

Camilla is the same as Pim. She collects sticks and also has a bunch of them everywhere. I allowed some in the house until I reached the point when I thought “oh oh! I opened the flood gate”. They are everywhere in the garden too. Camilla is obsessed with collecting everything though from sticks to pebbles, to leaves and shells etc etc. I think she may be a hoarder as well, as I am also not allowed to throw anything away…

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