My wife runs a small daycare out of our home and there are a couple of toddlers who become overwhelmed with excitement on Tuesday mornings when the garbage truck shows up to empty our bins. They gather at the front window to watch the entire process of the collection vehicle driving up, extending its arm, grabbing the bin, lifting and emptying the bin, putting the bin back down, and then driving off to the next house. They love it.
Apparently, these two kids are not the only ones fascinated by the weekly trash collection.
Ashley Fetters recently wrote an article in The Atlantic titled, “Why Your Kid Loves the Garbage Truck So Much” that explains why it’s such a joyous event. According to Fetters, it turns out that there are a number of reasons. Some are as simple as a child-like fascination with big moving parts and flashing lights and the delight kids get in dumping things out of containers, or watching something being dumped. Other explanations lean to the psychology of a child. For example, children are comforted by routines such as the collection truck coming at the same time every week.
Fetters quotes one expert, “‘Humans have always thrived with routine,’ she told me. ‘But children, their memories aren’t long enough. Sometimes, when we’re getting our 3-year-olds dressed for winter, they’re like, ‘I can’t do it!’ And we’re like, ‘You’ve put on snow pants before. You’ve put on boots.’ But for them, it’s so long ago. They don’t remember snow from when they’re 2; it’s new again for them.’ So having something happen every week at the same time—and especially something that ‘seems a little bit magical’—can boost kids’ sense of familiarity with the world, not to mention give them something to look forward to.”
Other experts say that children think something smelly is funny. Garbage trucks can stink, so kids enjoy that they stink. Toy collection trucks are also helping to keep the fan base refreshed and intact. But by far my favorite reason why little kids love the weekly ritual is that they get to see a smiling face waving back at them from the curb.
So if you’re one of those men and women working hard on a collection vehicle remember, you’re a rock star to a lot of kids.
Even Blippi, a children’s entertainer and educator on the internet, has been part of the ongoing craze.