"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.
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 paint...at 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.