xmlns:og='http://ogp.me/ns#' Yeah. Good Times.: A REAL parenting dilemma

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A REAL parenting dilemma

If you have a kid in preschool, or daycare, or even Kindergarten, you KNOW what I'm talking about: WTF do you do with all that artwork they bring home?

It's a brilliant use of the blue and the purple hues, isn't it? Yeah, I have FORTY of these.

I'm not talking about actual, nice drawings of things you can recognize, things that literally make you say "AWWWWWW" and then burst into tears, running out of the room before anybody can see you, and afterwards you go to Target (naturally) and buy a frame and keep it forever......

See, this is obviously a bear. You can tell because it says "A Bear" right there at the bottom. *sniff*

... I'm talking about the hundreds and hundreds of finger paintings, blobs of color, random scribbles, cotton balls glued to construction paper, that come home in the backpacks in droves. What do you do with those? You can't throw them away, this is the beautiful artwork that your darling child, your own flesh and blood, made with his own elbow grease and probably more than a little spit. You need to keep these forever, pulling them out at night to cherish their beauty while your darling child sleeps, and one day you'll be able to look at them, when your child is all grown up, and remember those long ago days of preschool when he was so small and he depended on you and he loved you unconditionally and the worst name he ever called you was "poo-poo face."

He has such a mastery of the glue-work!

Every time I get one of these things I think "Oh, crap, what am I supposed to do with this? I can't throw it away, I just can't. But do I really need another one? And it looks just like the last one, so what does it matter if I just throw away one? But doesn't that make me the absolute most horribly worst parent in the entire world, throwing away my child's precious, precious artwork?

I think here he was expressing the challenges of being a preschooler in a post-industrial, technological era. He's saying "in today's electronic world, we so rarely speak to each other face to face, we spend all of our time communicating via electronic device in lieu of the human contact that keeps us alive. What kind of future are we creating for our children ... for ourSELVES ... by choosing to live our lives in such a manner?"

When Child 1 was in preschool he had a home program; therapists would come to the house and work with him and every day he would produce artwork and our wonderful, fabulous therapist who worked with him every day was in charge of making this decision for me. I would say "Do I have to keep this?" and she would say either yes or no, and when she said no, she would take the paper from me so that I wouldn't be the one who actually threw it away. I miss her.

It's so much easier when other people do your thinking for you.

So, what do I do with all this stuff. Yeah, I keep it all; of COURSE I keep it all! I have boxes, one for each child for each year. Child 1: Kindergarten. Child 2: Preschool, etc. And those boxes are piling up in my various storage areas, waiting for them to grow older so I can pull them out and we can look at them together and say "Why the fuck did you keep these, Mom?"



Nibor said...

Never let your kid take that Macgyver class, or ceramics. It's even worse when the products are three-fucking-dimensional. And heavy.

Cherie said...

our preschool sends home a portfolio of sorts, at the end of the year. I just put that in the closet and keep shoving the crap in.
I do throw stuff away, though. Go ahead, really judge me now, let me have it.
Child 1 found a kindergarden worksheet she had colored or connected the dots on in the recycle bag and yelled at me "don't throw away my homework!" so now I have to be a little sneaky about it.

crystal said...

I have a bin where I place the truly precious ones ... the identifiable ones. The rest either get hung immediately, then thrown away, or placed on my kitchen island for about a week and then thrown away. >:)

The keepers, I just write who did it and when .. then in the bin they go. We don't yet have 3-D projects, thank the Lord. When we do, I believe they will have even more strict sorting agenda to withstand.

Unknown said...

throw 'em away!!! i don't keep ANY of it (probably because I assume most of it is HOH and not really by him regardless, which is sometimes wrong). i have enough shit in my house.

guess i'm heartless.

TMWHickman said...

I keep some of the stuff. But what you might want to do is take pictures of them and keep them on the computer. Much more efficient!

Yeah, I don't have the heart to do that, either.

Big Daddy Autism said...

I usually tear it up right in front of them while yelling something like, "What is this crap?" Nah. Actually, I pretty much save every piece. Our house is starting to look like we're ready for an episode of Hoarders.

Btw, sounds like you've had some Art History Classes in your past. Been there.

kathleen said...

yup-we have the boxes too. Lots and lots of boxes...I plan on giving them these boxes when they leave home..kind of like a going away present. I am afraid of what I might find behind the boxes-like Big daddy said-we too are starting to look like an episode of hoarders..you know, where they find mummified animals underneath the crap?

allison tait said...

I burst out laughing when I read that first paragraph. I confess that I only keep a few. Most are recycled. I know, crap mum. But the way I look at it, even the world's most famous artists are edited for exhibition. I'm just being the curator. It's my right.

Kim Wombles said...

We have everything the bright boy has done in his 20 years because it's so little, but the girlies go through 500 pages of printer paper a week, so we long ago gave up keeping all of their stuff. We still have boxes and boxes, though, despite getting better at getting rid of. :-)

Varda said...

I used to keep everything, now I just throw away most, only keep the true "keepers".

I have some friends who are brilliant about it, though, and here are their suggestions:

1. Take photos of all the work on a digital camera. then throw away everything but the really fabulous stuff. It is preserved but also? gone.

2. Keep everything until the end of the month. Have a folder that has limited space. Then go through the month's collection with your kid. Work with the kid to chose their 5 favorite pieces & that goes into the folder. Everything else goes away. If there are too many precious items, mark some for giveaway to grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. If they have a real hard time, take pictures (see #1).

I don't do any of this shit, but it sounds brilliant, anyway.

Happy13 said...

Filing cabinent...cabinet..how the hell do you spell it?


Filing cabinet.

Jen said...

I let them hang around the house for a few days, oooohhhing and aaaahhhing at his talent then I bin them, my husband goes around taking them OUT of the bin and then I bin them again a few days later. I must be missing a maternal bit! Jen

Anonymous said...

Michael Chabon wrote a hilarious essay on this subject in his book Manhood for Amateurs. He has four kids and he throws it all away. It's worth a read.

My mom saved everything my sisters and I made. Literally everything. Artwork, stories, letters, programs from fifth-grade piano recitals, certificates from spelling contests, report cards, standardized test score printouts. Maybe once every ten years I'll discover something I'm glad she saved. The rest of the time I think about how long it will take to clear out her basement when she's too old to stay in that house.

Lizze said...

I might keep a lot of things to remember things by but the artwork isn't one of them. I have THREE BOYS for crying out loud! I learned after Gavin there was too much artwork to keep. The problem I have is when I get CAUGHT throwing something away and Elliott Richard stands there, all teary eyed, with his tiny little 4 year-old voice wanting to know why I'm not keeping "that one too"? *Knife meet heart* It's horrible.

Although not so horrible that I don't throw it away as soon as he's distracted with something else. ;-) lol

My New Normal said...

Visiting from blog gems. I love the honesty in this post. I suppose you should keep the really great ones and bin the rest.

Big Daddy Autism said...

Hi. I am visiting from the Blog Gems. I haven't been to this blog before and I am quite offended by bawdy language.

Btw, my original comment from November 21, 2010 still applies.

Unknown said...

I keep the things that I think Moe could possibly have done mostly by himself. Anything that is clearly too good, or done hand over hand (like tracing letters), I toss. But I never let him see me do it ;)

Life in the House That Asperger Built said...

Yep, we save every scrap, but not because of me...because of Dickson...when I can I sneak stuff to the recycle bin, but I have to bury it, because Julia will pull it out and say, "Mommy this is NOT trash."

That said I have a 24" Square finger painting she did on a sheet prominently displayed in the living room, and between the two of them there is hardly any bear wall left for all their stuff hanging. And the boxes...all.those.boxes.

AutismWonderland said...

I keep under the kid's bed so it stays flat. I bring some stuff into work because I'm that obnoxious parent. But anything with glitter - goes. I don't care what it is.

Angel said...

I just happened across your blog this evening and am already in love with your stories!!

As for the artwork, take a digital picture of them all so no piece of art feels neglected. Then when you come across the good deals for the picture books, such as vistaprint, snapfish, etc., then you can load the pictures of the most awesome pages into a book. So you can always look at "all" the work, but you can have a physical copy of the best of the best.

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