Will Meinen | The Tattler
LOS ANGELES, CA — TLC, formerly The Learning Channel, has added a new program to its summer lineup. From the network that brought you two of the more successful reality shows, “Toddlers & Tiaras” and “Hoarding: Buried Alive,” comes a very exciting concept: “Toddler Hoarders: Buried and Newly Alive.”
Executive producer for the new venture, Jeff Collins, is excited to explore the hidden lives of toddlers who are incapable of parting with their possessions.
“It’s not just adults who struggle with the addiction of hoarding,” said Collins. “Children can suffer the same affliction, to the detriment of their family and friends.”
In the pilot episode, three-year-old Mary Jane Himple from North Greenwich, Connecticut, struggles to part with clothes that no longer fit, toys she no longer plays with, books she no longer reads, and other vestiges of her past as an infant.
“She has every bottle nipple she ever fed from,” her teary-eyed Mother, Donna Himple, explained to the camera. “I tried to give her onesies to my sister, who had a girl of her own, and she totally fell apart. She had a panic attack. She’s now seeing a psychiatrist who has her on 20mg of Zoloft at the moment. We’re hoping that it will balance her out so that we can dispose of some of the cloth bibs and tiny tennis shoes that are taking up space in the hall closet.”
The TLC team sent an organizational consultant and developmental psychologist to the Himple’s home. Psychologist Jane Stencil conducted a private interview with the child to determine the severity of her issue.
“It’s obvious to me that Mary Jane longs for a simpler time. The reason she can’t part with her early drawings, dried out markers, and broken crayons is that they represent a period in her development where she felt safe and supported. Now she is walking, required to make some decisions on her own, and asked to communicate her thoughts using words, so naturally she feels overwhelmed. It’s not the things, it’s what those things represent.”
Mary Jane did not seem troubled at all by her hoarding behavior as she danced for the camera while giving Stencil a tour of her room. From floor to the wainscoting were stuffed animals, dolls, crusty binkies, and moldy baby bottles, all stacked on her old crib, changing table, and rocking chair.
“I love my woom (room),” yelled the excited toddler.
“You notice how the child pronounced ‘room?'” asked the psychologist to the camera. “Womb? Mary is clearly trying to return to the womb. The last place she felt truly safe. But when you think about it, aren’t we all?”
“I’m not,” replied Mary’s 11-year-old brother Max. “I just want some attention. I’m thinking about pretending not to focus on my studies to get some pills like Mary. I want to be sick, too. It seems to be the only thing that anybody cares about around here.”