When Ryan was maybe 4, we got a big tub of assorted plastic beads. He could spend an hour at a time stringing beads, making patterns, sorting out the colors and shapes.
Well, most of the beads were for stringing.
He would string the barrel beads, the "dog bone" beads (those sort of triangular ones with bulbous ends), the flower shapes, the bumpy ball-shaped ones, the butterflies.
But he carefully gathered the donut-shaped beads and stashed them on the corner of his bed.
At first, I would encourage him to put ALL the beads back in the tub when he was finished, but soon it became clear that the donut beads needed to live in the corner of Ryan's bed. Eventually, they moved from the corner to directly under the mattress, like so many peas for a princess.
Over the years, I have occasionally asked him why, and the best answer I've gotten is "Because I like them there."
When we moved to the new house, the donut beads moved in the box with his sheets - they had become a necessary part of the bed. Ryan carefully spread them out on the bed platform and covered them with his mattress. Two days ago I found a random donut bead around the house (you know, as you do), and he grabbed it from me to add to his "cowwection."
Then yesterday, Ryan asked me to pick up the mattress for him so he could gather up all the donut beads. He played with them for a while, arranged them into a rainbow, used them to decorate his block tower. When we were picking up toys at bedtime, I asked him where we should put away the donut beads.
He put them in the bead container, with all the other beads. Like this was a perfectly normal thing.
He closed the lid and got into bed.
I felt a little uncomfortable. Like, how can I put him to bed without a dozen beads under the mattress?
But he was fine with it.
I guess he doesn't like them there anymore.
Addendum: two days after I published this post, the beads took up residence in Mr. Potato Head's butt, and have stayed there ever since.