quirky or normal?

Question: do all toddlers have an obsession with sorting and organizing things, or is it just mine?

Lately, Cate seems to want to go through all kinds of things and “file” them away, usually not where I’d like them to be. We recently got her an extra-large toy chest in our family room, and Dave and I are constantly digging things out of it that Cate has carefully placed in there: remote controls, car keys, an empty Pringles can (WTF?), basically whatever she finds that she thinks is interesting and might want to revisit later.

It’s not just the toy chest, either. Take her crayons: she shakes them out of the box, organizes them in some sort of “it makes sense in her little toddler brain” pattern, then picks them up and puts them back in the box. Then she shakes them out again, and lather-rinse-repeat. I thought that by getting her some crayons, we’d be encouraging her to draw, but all she wants to do is sort them. It’s sort of the same thing she does with the gravel in the driveway.

She also loves to go through all the stuff in our bathroom cabinets. She’ll pull out whatever she can find: a tube of Neosporin, my mascara, whatever, and then she’ll take off running down the hall with it. I might find it later in her clothes hamper, under the guest room bed, in her upstairs toy box, or who-knows-where.

Don’t get me wrong, I generally find this behavior to be pretty funny, aside from a few “now where the heck did she put x??” moments now & then. I’m just wondering if this is something that all kids do, or if mine is a little bit of a weirdo. (My guess is that it’s probably the latter.)

6 thoughts on “quirky or normal?

  1. Toddler-detective! What she’s doing shows intelligence. It’s all part of developing cognitive schemas, assimilating and accomodating new information, and exploring the world to gather as much information as possible. Sorry for the psychological nerdspeak. It’s a good thing that she’s sorting your car keys and the empty pringles can together. As long as you know where the car keys end up!

    She’s probably about ready to learn to sort things by color or size or animal type. We have this great toy that is great for color sorting– it’s 10 bears of each of 5 colors, with a matching cup of each color. You put red bears in the red cup, yellow bears in the yellow cup, etc. There are hundreds of things like that on the market, and legos or barettes work just as well. supervised because those small parts can be a choking hazard. I can’t remember whether Cate tends to put everything in her mouth, so you would want to supervise playing because those small parts can be a choking hazard. But it sounds like the kind of thing she’d love.

    If small parts are no good for her, she could sort her suffed animals by color or type or something.

    I’ve said it before, but that child of yours is going to be a rocket-scientist.

  2. She doesn’t tend to put things in her mouth, usually. Even when she plays with the rocks in the driveway, once or twice she tried to taste one, and we said “no, that’s dirty,” and she hasn’t done it again since.

    The sorting toys sound like a good idea. The stuffed animals are a lost cause, since she has no interest in anything soft and fuzzy. Seriously, it doesn’t matter how many different types of cuddly animals I try to introduce, she just doesn’t care about them at all. She likes toys that light up & beep. (Just like her daddy!) I’m guessing maybe the stuffed animal phase comes later.

  3. Totally normal. I can’t even tell you how many years it took to find random objects after my sisters went through this phase. I swear after the last one moves out this year we’ll find car keys to cars we no longer own. Sorting toys are an excellent idea.

  4. Oh, I should also add that of the sisters who were big-time sorters? One is pre-vet, the other pre-med. 🙂

  5. I second that: I think it shows a predelicition for organizational skills. Give the girl a spreadsheet! (In about 10 years.)

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