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A New Twist On An Old Hobby

A son’s collection isn’t quite the same as dad’s.

When I was a kid, I loved collecting baseball cards.

Back then, my friends and I would stop by a little mom and pop candy store as we walked home from school to pick up a pack of cards. 

I still remember the bubble gum that came in those packs –- has there ever been a worse chewing gum than those super-hard sticks with absolutely no flavor? Do they even make those anymore? If not, the youth of today are missing out.   

Of course, the best part of getting the packs was opening them up to see what ball players we got. We were happy to get any Cubs player, even if it was one of the benchwarmers, but disappointed if we got our third duplicate of the backup second baseman for the Montreal Expos (now the Washington Nationals). 

We’d trade the cards, and also draft teams and come up with our own games using the cards. 

I still have my collection, which includes some all-time greats like Hank Aaron and Roberto Clemente, and favorite Cubs like Billy Williams.

I always assumed that one day I would pass along my collection to my son. But I don’t think he wants them. 

He prefers to collect something else. 

Kai collects old medicine containers.

Developing an interest

We have been doing biomedical treatment for Kai since he was diagnosed with autism. Autism is often accompanied by other medical issues such as GI (gastrointestinal) problems, immune system deficiencies, food sensitivities and neurotransmitter malfunctions, among others.

We have been seeing a doctor that specializes in treating kids on the autism spectrum, and he has had Kai on a variety of supplements including vitamins and minerals, fish oil and other natural supplements, in addition to a few prescription drugs.

For the longest time, Kai had shown no interest in his supplements.  But when he became obsessed with the periodic table earlier this year, he started to notice that many of his supplements had familiar names: calcium, selenium, zinc.

Since then, Kai has become more interested in helping me to prepare the supplements for his consumption. As he is only beginning to swallow pills, we mix most of these with applesauce, different combinations for different times of the day.  

It has become our daily father-and-son ritual. I guide him–this vitamin goes into the a.m. mix, this one is for p.m.–and he opens each capsule and pours the content into the proper container.

His favorite part is when we run out of a particular supplement. He takes the empty container and runs to put it on a shelf in his bedroom. He is amassing quite a collection. 

And he wants to keep adding to it.

Building his collection

This week, we had another appointment with his doctor. For the first time, Kai initiated a conversation with him.

“Um, excuse me,” he said. “Can you give me more medicines?”

He really wanted some different containers for his collection. And when the doctor happened to oblige with recommendations for a few new supplements, Kai was very happy.

When we got home, Kai opened his “medicine store.” He took all of the new supplements and arranged them on the kitchen table. He didn’t want to go to bed; he wanted to keep playing with all of his medicine containers.

Times have changed a lot from when I was a kid. There are no mom and pop stores anymore. Kids often don’t walk to school by themselves. The Montreal Expos no longer exist. And baseball cards don’t hold as much interest, at least with my special child.

So, if you know another child who loves collecting empty medicine containers, please let me know. I think my son might be willing to trade two Vitamin Cs for Vitamin E and cod liver oil.

peggy miller July 26, 2011 at 07:20 PM
Yuji, Once again you have written an article that make believe that it is possible to turn lemons into lemonade. Thanks, Peggy Miller
Yuji Fukunaga July 27, 2011 at 04:46 AM
Thanks, Peggy!

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