Garbage trucks have been G’s obsession since birth it seems. I’m pretty sure we have every garbage truck toy under $50 made in the last 5 years, and a couple really cool pricey ones too (thanks, GodMom Aunt Karen, Aunt Chris and Santa!). Luckily for us, the Garbage Truck market has grown with G. A very happy coincidence indeed. With the push for “green” living, greater emphasis is put upon recycling, saving the planet, and living less toxic lives. Thus, the garbage and recycle truck market has exploded. In a good sense, it can be a great learning tool for ecology. G’s interest goes waaaaaay beyond that. G has plenty of real Garbage Trucks to watch (worship). They’re EVERYWHERE!!!!!! Why did the boy cross the road? To get to the next trash can! I used to be an avid garage sale-r, but after a few incidents, necessity dictated that I go only when G is at school. At the height of his obsession, I caught him inspecting peoples’ garbage cans, actually lifting the lids and peeking in while I checked out a sale. Strangers! Though, does that distinction really matter when discussing garbage? Yikes! We dare not go for neighborhood walks on trash days, G will insist upon checking out the various garbage cans. We live in a semi-rural area where we pay private companies for our trash removal and recycling. What that means is lucky G sees garbage trucks and bins of all styles, shapes and colors 3 days a week. His excitement when pink trash cans appeared (for Breast Cancer Awareness) was stellar, comparable to Christmas morning. Really. I’m a bit bummed that we didn’t get one. During one preschool year I had to alter our schedule to allow extra time for G to wait and watch our truck. After they finished our court, we’d jump in the car and travel behind them so that G could watch the whole process. Holiday weeks became a nightmare – trash pickup was totally off schedule and we often missed the trucks on their altered schedules. For 2 years, no matter what we were doing, all household/play activity had to halt for 10 minutes while G trailed the truck’s path via windows throughout the house or running out to the front yard to watch. I had to draw the line at following random garbage trucks while out driving. I/we endured many a loud and heartbreaking tantrum as G mourned a missed opportunity.
When G began his love affair with the giant green trucks, I was hard-pressed to find any Gahbig Twuck (GT) items. So I searched online - and lo and behold – discovered YouTube (squeals of delight and thunderous applause). I was in awe of the huge variety of clips dedicated to garbage that YouTube offered - over 25,000!!! What??? There are videos of garbage trucks doing nothing more than collecting trash, dumping it, operating the truck, driving to the next home or business - over a million hits! Amazing.
My G was mesmerized and replayed them over and over. He became a YouTube junkman junkie at 2. I lost my iTouch to G’s vast WasteLand. It was worth it to see him happy and seated to allow for a quick shower or housework. G quickly learned how to search for vids and save them to favorites for a quick GT fix. Convenient! He was elated to find other kids who had the same love (fixation) as him. There are currently over 1000 GT toy clips on YouTube. Wow, I really outta video G with his fleet. He watches 9 minute videos of kids playing with their GT’s. Some toy trucks make noises, move via batteries, others are totally kid-powered.
G found vids with veteran garbage men or truck companies showing off new or vintage trucks, bragging a about their features and stats like a classic car owner. I was dumbfounded by the vast world of GT lovers. I fought it for a short while, for decorum sake (ewwww), then finally gave in.
G was happy enough without actual GT toys. He made everything in his day relate to GT’s. This was the only imagination he showed at this point. He’d scoop his cereal into the bowl, with GT sound effects. He’d load blocks, Legos, rocks, acorns, paper from our shredder (a vacuuming nightmare!) mud, sand, grapes, coins, you name it – into trucks or large Gladware or box “trucks”; use cups, plastic laundry caps, small boxes as the trash cans. He did this EVERYWHERE.
Sandcastles? Nope. Makeshift garbage collection on vacation. Note the intensity of his play. He gives Dad instructions on how he’ll dump it, and as seen in the last pic, obviously it’s not carried out the way he planned it. Epic fail.
When we started OT, no matter what plan his therapist made, he’d somehow work in a baby blocks toy that he’d turned into a garbage loading operation. She eventually, patiently gave in (as we all did)and incorporated his obsession into his therapy theme. He attended wonderfully, until it was time to transition into something non-trash oriented. Sigh. We love you, fun Mrs. Cake!
G could be seen in the neighborhood and around town in a world of his own, TrashTown, G’s GreenScene, GarbageRUs, etc. We had to laugh or we’d be mortified. He’d act out elaborate trash pickup scenarios, using shhhhh (brakes) rmmmm (gears, acceleration) and beep beep beeps (back-ups).
G’s custom “G the Garbage Guy” Costume, he carried a small trash can for trick-or-treating. Living the dream!
During one instance I was walking with G as he travelled the neighborhood acting out his imaginary garbage truck route. He’d stop, pretend to open a mailbox (stand-in trash can). He really did open the first few mailboxes until I told him he’d be arrested. Drastic I know, but he’s darn headstrong and prone to outrageous tantrums. He repeatedly played out his dramatic scene of lifting the imaginary trash cans, loading them on the lifter, emptying in GT, pushing buttons, hitting smasher, returning garbage cans, driving off, etc. No deviation from the process, no words, just sweeping arm motions, body shifts, sound effects. EVERY. HOUSE. IN A 1 MILE CIRCLE OF OUR NEIGHBORHOOD! Our next door neighbor who’s a real sweetie joined us about 3/4’s way through and it took 30 mins. to get home. She patiently came along and chatted with me (at me, actually). I was concentrated on G’s safety, leading an unwilling G back to the sidewalk after each pretend garbage dump, instead of travelling the street like he wanted to, “But I’m a Gahbig Twuck!” Bless her for coming along and trying to have a nice neighborly talk. We’re lucky to have supportive, kind neighbors.
G was potty trained using my “Garbage Out, Garbage In” System(patent pending, all rights reserved, trademark, copyright, pinky swear, cross my heart, etc.) LOL. After 2 years of failed Potty Training schemes, I scoured every department store toy aisle and toy store in a 30 mile radius and bought a few Hot Wheels/Matchbox special edition $5 GT jobbies, bought a few from Ebay (shout out to the nice toy dealer in Ohio who threw in a few extras that he found at a toy show). I put them and a few other cool treasures into an large empty clear pretzel bin. I displayed it prominently, talked it up, and began giving him his choice each time he went potty with no accident Yup, he got big $3-$5 prizes – several the first day, but he was trained in a few days. I gave him LOTS of H2O to drink. I got a Bruder truck catalog and let him peruse it while on the potty with a promise of getting one when he went 1 week with no accidents, pee and poop. Sure enough, we made a big ordeal out of our trip to the toy store, got it wrapped beautifully (only available at pricey posh stores = free wrap) just so he could rip it open in the car on the way home and push all the buttons. Worked, as nothing else had worked just in time for his 4th birthday….what a long haul…pun totally intended.
I used to print off GT line drawings from the web for him to color. He wanted dozens, and would scribble them all green and hang them everywhere. He constantly wanted his big bro N to draw them for him. G has never liked drawing or writing until this year. Handwriting OT finally sunk in enough to motivate him and get him comfortable writing (not well, but that will come). His first drawing – not people or houses or animals or cars like most kids start out with. A Garbage Truck. With Garbage Cans and recycling bins. Of course he included the big WM (Waste Management) logo on the side, his fave.
I could write a full book just on G’s obsession with Garbage Trucks (I capitalize because we hold them in such reverence at our home). Friends and neighbors tell him that they think of G every time they see a garbage truck. Cute or ick? I wouldn’t say I embrace it, but I just have to accept it. Hooray for garbage!
Garbage Trucks Galore: Toys, fun books, DVD’s, wooden model build-it kits by Melissa and Doug