Collections & Latency

Nancy Daley
5 min readAug 25, 2022

A little order in the world.

Treasures (Author’s photo)

Latency is a very interesting stage in human development. It’s that time from around kindergarten to fifth grade-ish. (Humans are notorious for having flexible maturing times. I have a grandson who was born in latency — more about him later.)

Freud coined the term, believing that this was a time when you were more focused on learning to print between the lines than plotting to kill your father and marry your mother. The Oedipal/Electral urges went underground for a while. “Latent.”

This is the time when you generally start school and come to the realization that your parents cannot actually see what you’re doing every minute. You learn to get in line, follow rules, be held accountable for your foolish shenanigans.

Your conscience, as it develops, becomes very strict during this time. It becomes important to do the right things, earn stickers, respect authority. Your latency age child will scold you for smoking, demand that you hold monthly fire drills at home because the fire fighters came and visited school. Drug dealers and thieves should spend their lives in prison because they are very bad people.

Latency age kids think in very black and white terms: good and bad, right and wrong. There are no gray areas because for heaven’s sake life is complicated enough already.

It is an era of starting collections: rocks, fossils, Pok-e-Mon cards, stuffed animals, bottle caps, coins (the wise kids). These collections represent the universe that a latency age kid can control, while all the rest of the universe is filled with random stupid stuff.

If anything happens to disrupt the collection — the baby gets into the rock collection, Mom puts the stuffed alligator next to the stuffed bunny while she is dusting, Dad tosses the leaf collection — DISASTER! MELTDOWN! CATASTROPHE! The world of order has been thrown into chaos.

I am still visiting my BFF Mary in San Pedro. She is a great collector. Her house is a museum of rocks, fossils, seashells, dishes, glasses, bed linens, books, sheet music, pots and pans. All things that bring her joy on a daily basis, whether they evoke memories of pleasant experiences or merely catch sunlight and throw it into rainbows on the wall.

Nancy Daley

Artist, food-worshipper, grouch, retired psychologist and uni lecturer (Human Sexuality). Currently running for Queen of the Universe.