Thursday, August 30, 2007

These simple gifts...

"Mommy, I made this for you."

Six words that strike fear in my heart.

I look up momentarily and see, in her shining 5-year-old glory, my clone looking upon me with a toothy grin. She holds before her an offering - to others what must look like a nonsensical assortment ( of what? Is that macaroni? dog hair? some glue? maybe some tissue? was that Kleenex used?) But not to mini-me. To her it a masterpiece that she has poured her soul into, and it is the very symbol of her love for me and her complete devotion and trust that I will do right by her.

Damn it.

Now, before you write me off as heartless please understand - the problem is not my lack of appreciation for my children's efforts. Our walls are plastered with tadpole-like renderings of our family, tissue paper pumpkins, cotton ball faced Santas and the occasional "nature collage", consisting of numerous dried leaves and what I think used to be worms. Not only are our walls covered, but our drawers and closets overflow with the stuff. Therein lies the problem. We want to keep every lovely token of their artistic expression, but we also want to keep our sanity. The guilt nearly overwhelms me when I face the challenge of culling our a year's worth of school projects.

We've even been reduced to shameless preventative tactics.

"What a lovely mobile, sweetie! You know who would REALLY love that? Nana. She was just telling me the other day how she wished he had more art depicting the life cycle of a dragonfly."

"Now honey, I'm sure when the art teacher said to take ALL your work home, she really meant just those things that begin with the letter "q"".

Alas to no avail.

For now, we accept each piece with academy award deserving gratitude. From time to time, in the dead of night, we purge a piece here and there, trying to keep those items that best represent the phase of our children's lives at the time. (A particular favorite is our daughter's "poop" phase where she painted page after page with brown finger least, I think it was finger paint...)

Anyway, I know that there will come a time when there will be no more scarecrows and groundhog puppets that pop-up out of toilet paper tubes, and I know I'll be glad we kept these tokens.

I'll put them up on the wall in my room at the insane asylum.


megan said...

Maybe your kids will figure out that making gifts for mom & dad can carry them well into their 20s - which saves TONS of money - and you can have multiple decades of priceless art. Just think of the possibilities! Whatever you do, don't get any bright ideas about donating their work to a museum! Well, unless it's RISD. That would be ok.

Mike said...

I love this. Aidan has done one year of pre-school. We're getting ready for number two. and, already it's like, do we keep this? Should we keep that? Will he notice if it's not there. Good stuff.

Bananas said...

Love it. It's so true... another huge problem is the piles of stuff that I get sent home EVERY DAY from preschool. I feel horrible throwing anything away, but there's SO MUCH OF IT!

Jennifer aka Binky Bitch said...

Oh my, I hope it was fingerpaint!

I remember making masterpieces for my parents and them somehow "disappearing" after several days.

Anna said...

Okay, I have a great solution, inspired by one of my son's day care teachers. A giant scrapbook, oversized. We lovingly place the items in there together, and then we look at it and reflect on how he has "grown as an artist."

I'm also saving it for when he is a famous artist, can you imagine what it will be worth?

Also? I've seen a mini indoor clothesline work well here--a rotating art show. When ten things come home, ten things come off the line.

And there is always Nana. :)

beta mom said...

Good point, Megan. Of course, our parents NEVER thought this about any of the amazing things we gave them...I mean they were really glad to give up the space because our stuff was REALLY good....right?

Mike - Oh yes, he will notice.

Bananas - Sorry to tell you, it multiplies with each grade.

Jennifer - As noted above...I can't believe our parents EVER felt this way!

Anna - Where in God's green earth do you find time to work, parent, photograph, write AND scrapbook. You're swimming in Alpha waters. Seriously, though, those are some great ideas. I love the clothesline.

beta mum said...

Junk modelling at nursery was the worst.
I'd be presented with a still sticky concoction of cereal packets and pasta, with one of the nursery staff smirking in the background as I expressed everlasting gratitude to the small person proffering the gift.
At least school items are generally flat and can go into a file of selected artwork.

beta mom said...

Oh, Beta Mum, the smirking staff! They're also the evil-doers who insist on providing the children with glitter!

creative-type dad said...

I think that recycling bin of mine is going to get a real good workout in the future...

Anonymous said...

Oh my, that is so true! It never fails that if I am able to get something in the trash can, the artist(i have 3) will see it and then with puppy dog eyes ask how did it get in the trash? Then I have to hang it, trash riddle for the world to see & smell:)

Alpha DogMa said...

I'm heartless. Stuff goes out the door pretty quick. But not before I employ the scanner or camera. Doubtless my children will need therapy. Better them than me. Cos damn I hate clutter. Esp clutter covered in glitter.

foolery said...

I've made it THEIR problem.

"Oh, that's lovely, honey! What are you gonna do with it?"

"I'm gonna KEEP IT!"

"Great! But remember, if I find it on the floor, out it goes."

"But MAMA! Where will I put it?"

"In the blue file box, of course."

"But it's FULL!"

"Well, somebody needs to do some CULLING, I see."

Bad Mommy.