Art or Recycling?: Your Child's CreativityAllana Harkin
I was putting my daughter to bed and noticed she was cradling a rolled up piece of newspaper fastened by a few yards of masking tape. I asked her what it was and she looked at me like I had 4 heads, “Uh…it’s a light saber, Mama. I made it at school.” I looked to my husband who further explained that when he picked her up from daycare all the kids were running around beating each other with them. I had to wonder, was this the actual art project of the day or just something to occupy the children until pick up time: “Okay kids, lets burn off some energy by rolling up some newsprint, referencing a sci-fi classic you’ve never seen, and taking a few good whacks at each other.”
I was concerned for obvious reasons.
Was this considered “official artwork?” Did we have to keep this one or could I get away with pitching it in the recycling? I mean, come on! It’s a piece of dirty newsprint AND it’s a weapon. But look at her all curled up with it. She LOVES that light saber. Wouldn’t it be cute for her to pull it out of a memory keepsake box 25 years from now and say, “What the hell is this?” To which I, clearly flooded with fond memories and confusion, would promptly respond, “I have no idea.” And so goes the internal battle. Recycle it! She has no idea what a light saber is anyway. She’s never even seen Star Wars. Keep it! It’s ADORABLE. If you were a better mother you’d identify the artful object with a gold calligraphy pen: Your first born made this light saber on August 20th, 2011. Oh, I should do that. I should be that mother. Where do you buy metallic pens?
So here’s my full confession: I have kept (almost) everything. Every little piece of scrap paper that has come through my front door that has something on it which may or may not be “artish.” Although you may be thinking, “Oh, sweet,” this act actually classifies me as a hoarder. A toddler art hoarder who, after displaying her child’s art on the fridge, eventually puts it in an overstuffed old gift bag in the basement. But what do you throw out? The princess with the one eyeball? The cat with the disproportionately huge stick legs? The toilet roll? Okay, yes. I should have thrown out the toilet roll. I don’t even know why it’s in there.
I need a system. And it’s not my 4 year old’s fault or her over zealous enthusiasm for drawing. I am fully to blame. She’s fine with getting rid of things. In fact, when I gently broached the subject of thinning out her mammoth stuffed animal collection, she was ruthless: Elmo? Get rid of him. Paddington Bear? What evs, chuck it. First ever baby doll that I purchased for her at the tender age of one and a half? She three-pointed it into the Goodwill bag with a, “I’m not even a baby anymore, Mama!” I felt like I was thinning out a toy collection with the Godfather.
So in the spirit of scaling down and clearing out, I decided to do something rash. I retrieved a giant garbage bag from the kitchen and went to work. And now? I have a fantastically organized bedroom closet from clearing out about a dozen outfits to donate to the local mission.
The light saber went with the rest of the artwork. Undated and placed with love alongside the one eye balled princess and cat with the giant stick legs. I may not be able to recognize what any of it is in 25 years, but I’ll get more enjoyment out of it than those jeans that made me feel like J-lo until I looked in the mirror. And if my daughter ever wonders if her mother thought she had any talent, I can direct her to the warehouse I had to rent to house her artwork.
The toilet roll went in the garbage. It really showed very little promise and would clearly look odd stuck to my fridge.
I do have some sense of pride. How about you?