Saturday, March 12, 2011

Snoop and Ye Shall Find

A lot has been written about how kids today are not as creative and curious as kids of "our generation." Overly structured schedules (hello! we have not had dinner together as a family once this week!) as well as mind-numbing electronics certainly have taken their toll.

In my house I've noticed what I consider to be a related phenomenon: Zero Snooping.

When I was a kid, I was familiar with every nook and cranny in my family's large 1830's farmhouse. No drawer or cupboard escaped my notice. The family silver, in its zip-up leather case enticed me to sort and admire it.

Old trunks with magazines articles about John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, jr beckoned me, as did yellowed clippings of my mom as Homecoming Queen or sporting a "Smart Wool Suit" made for 4-H club.

Baby clothes and Christmas ornaments piled high in boxes in our attic "junk room" provided both an obstacle course and hours of entertainment.

A lack of tv channels, a dearth of close friends, and a mom who went about her household business with zero hovering, afforded me ample snooping opportunities.

My snooping made me an excellent "finder" when something got lost. "That's in the back of the guest room drawer, third from the top" would not have been an unusual response from me when something needed finding. My mother thought I might have special intuitive powers, but I think I was just a relentless snoop.

I remember finding the book, "Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex But Were Afraid to Ask" under my parents bed. Wowza!

I found a little note card, supplied by a pharmacy, in my dad's dresser drawer. It was titled: "How to Tell if your Child is On Drugs." One look in the mirror at my larger than normal pupils, and I convinced myself that somehow, through no effort of my own, I had become a drug addict.

I found cute-sy Valentine gifts, from my mother to my father, tucked in her turtleneck drawer. Had they been a flop? Were they forever un-delivered? Did my parents still love each other?

My snooping led to stories in my head, which were nearly as interesting as those I read in the books I carried around. And speaking of books, I loved to snoop through my mom's Judith Krantz novels for the juicy parts.

My father's infectious disease textbooks led to hours of ogling images of rare skin conditions and elephantitis of certain body parts, some of which are still burned into my brain.

If that got boring, I always had the burgundy World Book Encyclopedias to read, which wasn't exactly snooping, but showed a curiosity I've yet to see in my kids. Should I start with "A" today, or get crazy and choose "Q"?

Sometimes I'd climb to the top of a closet and make a perch-like fort. I discovered lots of dust bunnies and a rather banal copy of a girly magazine in my brother's room. With the iconic Farrah Fawcett red bathing suit poster thumbtacked to his ceiling, I guess I shouldn't have been surprised.

Snooping led me to find my mother's missing gold wedding band, which now graces my hand, far underneath the bathroom radiator.

When my mom would leave to run errands, my sister and I would go into full snooping mode. I remember the time she unwrapped and re-wrapped a Christmas present, later proclaiming to my Mom: "When I shake this, it feels like a white stuffed kitty with long hair." Hmmmm.

My mother hid our presents in the laundry room, the car, or even the neighbor's houses. Once Mom and I conspired to keep my sister from finding her big birthday present-- Kenny Roger's "The Gambler" album. We taped it to the inside wall of our pantry far above our heads.... but she still found it.

But now, I have a closet full of photo albums yet untouched by little hands. Am I crazy to think my kids should be interested enough to see Mom with big hair at a frat party and wonder, "What's in that big red cup?"

At Christmas time, the kids know the guest room is where I wrap presents, but they leave them unmolested.

And with the exception of my daughter nearly giving her dad a heart attack looking for a certain hygiene item in his bedside table drawer, the kids don't seem to open or close any drawers, preferring to leave things in ever-accessible piles throughout the house. Or, better yet, delivered to them by their gracious mother in a time of need.

Sometimes I think no one except me knows where anything is in this house, and no one cares.

Mario Brothers is fun, I suppose, as is travel soccer, but what about the lost art of spending time alone-- sifting, and sorting...and snooping?

What about you? Did you ever find anything interesting during a snooping expedition?


Kristina P. said...

I wasn't a snooper either! Maybe I should start now.

Unknown said...

what i great post. love it. i admit i did peak at my christmas presents. not all the time but the
temptation was always there.

Ellen aka Ellie said...

Found the same book...

As for presents, my mom used to tie her closets closed with thread! Mac never looked, he never wanted to "spoil surprises."

Way more ethical than his mom.

Unknown said...

How awesome was snooping for presents?!?! I thought I was the only one that unwrapped them and then wrapped them back up.

I think my son might be a snooper...

Christy said...

I was, and am, a total snoop. (In my OWN home of course - not yours!) I can still tell Matt where everything is...and my daughter is definitely showing signs of following in my footsteps, much to my delight AND consternation! She's only 2.5 for goodness sake!

Hmmm - we did find interesting stuff, but I can't think of anything in particular right now. Christmas presents, for sure. Documents, oh yeah. But nothing x or even r rated. Oh, wait - candy! My dad hid his m&ms; I found them and ate the whole bag...he never confronted us! :)

purejoy said...

i was a bit of a snooper, too. i remember finding some Christmas presents of mine and peeking. and then i remember how much of a let-down Christmas morning was. so it really curbed my desire.
my kids weren't/arent's snoopers either. weird.
maybe it's because they've been in church their whole lives and wouldn't be interested in going against what the holy spirit would want.
they're weird like that.

Kristin @ My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia said...

SO funny! I posted about snooping once :)
I love taking walks at night and seeing in others homes. It's a decorating thing :)
I wanted to say thank you for stopping in today :) I'm really enjoying your blog.
Take care

Michelle Hughes said...

What a wonderful post!!! And yes, I was a total snoop. My parents left me alone for hours and hours at a time. But, the best and the most completely shocking thing is something I found in my grandmother's underwear drawer while searching for more Lee press on nails. did NOT find the nails. I was in 5th grade and had no idea such things even existed, but still I immediately knew what it was!

Jill said...

Oh yes ... I snoop ... therefore I am!

I found the same book too (did our parents really not know about sex?)

I also found nudie mags.

All our schoolwork growing up.

And pot. Yup ... apparently my parents had a bit of it!

Gretchen said...

OH MY GOD you never fail to give a good post Anna.

This one was particularly hilarious. I can picture you sitting perched up in the top of a closet.

I snooped some but what I found, I didn't want to find, and I never snooped again. Some things you just can't ever un-see and I think my immature eyes were too innocent! LOL

Kate Coveny Hood said...

Oh Anna - we've talked about this at length. It's one of the main reasons that I don't love the idea of babysitters. I know exactly what I did - and it was snooping around!

aliciamarie911 said...

I soooo used to unwrap my presents under the tree while my parents were gone and then I would wrap them back up. I was a snoop then and I still am. I love finding new things, or finding where someone hid something to keep me from finding it.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I snooped. My mother's jewelry boxes, her scarf drawer, her shoes, the top shelf of their closet, a certain drawer in my dad's armoir...the trashy novel drawer under where we kept the towels. Ugh. If the interest is hereditary, there are some areas of my home I need to edit a little before my little ones catch the bug. They're a little young now, but really, do I want my daughter to someday be reading my tipsy journal entries from when I was heartbroken in my early twenties? No.


Clare said...

It's normal to snooped,it is because of curiousity..
great blog!!

K A B L O O E Y said...

Guilty. I did at home and I did when babysitting, though not to the same extent. But I always found the Playboy's.

Anonymous said...

I LOVED snooping as a kid. I mostly did it at my grandmothers' houses because they had the coolest old stuff. Especially my mother's mom. She was quite the pack rat.

for a different kind of girl said...

It's like we lead a parallel life! I used to actually come home early from school, feigning illness, just to get some quality snooping time in. All the pamphlets and diet tips ripped from magazines in nightstand drawers, the medical journals, the *gasp!* birth control pills. I could have been a hardcore police investigator if the department had a teen unit!

Katie @ Newcomb Home said...

I am a snooper. I was always looking under beds and for my sister's diary. I never touched the Christmas presents - this probably stems from the year I saw how disappointed my sister was when she'd ruined the surprise. I don't have kids yet but hope they will be too. Such fond memories at the mysteries I thought up!
I just found your blog and am your newest follow, love your writing!

Heidi said...

I snooped and that made me a great finder of you! I can still find just about anything and I owe it to snooping or just sounds better...less obvious.

Loved this post.

I'm so far behind! I've been a serious slacker with the blogs I follow, so I need to keep reading your posts. You've been busy!