As parents, we are always receiving our children’s artwork — better known as that heap of creativity they draw, paint, and construct at home and at school.
I am lucky that our son’s school spends a lot of time fostering this creativity. I, as a proud parent, do try to display this work throughout the house including, but not limited to, the fridge, walls, kitchen cabinets, in a pile on my desk, and covering most other surfaces in our home. This accounts for about 10% of the total artwork received. But let’s be honest here, the rest eventually find their way into our garbage can.
You only need to get busted throwing away their craftsmanship once before you develop a phased system guaranteed not to rip their tiny hearts out of their chest. Allow me to explain.
1. Receipt Phase
You are handed your little Picasso’s 300th work of art. You sufficiently “ohhhh” and “ahhhhh,” careful to dole out specific compliments like, “WOW, what a wonderful use of the color black,” or “I really like the amount of elbow macaroni you were able to fit on one page.”
2. Discussion Phase
Listen intently as they explain every minute detail of said project. It’s best not to lead the conversation. If so, you may accidentally call what is clearly a striped elephant a zebra and things could get awkward. No one wants to get slow-blinked by their kid.
3. Shelving Phase
During this phase, the artwork remains on your counter within clear view of your child. This can last anywhere from 24 hours to 3 weeks, depending on the perceived time that went into the project. Typically, scraps of paper with three lines gets less shelf life than, say, a handprint turkey.
4. Annoyance Phase
This one comes in hot when something sets you off and you cannot possibly stand the mess in your home for one more second. You know you are in this phase when you scream to no one in particular, “HOLY CRAP, THIS HOUSE IS SUCH A MESS.”
Do NOT, under any circumstance, throw anything out during this phase. You are emotional and tired. Kids smell weakness and will use the opportunity to ask you where you put their project.
5. Temporary Removal Phase
You decide to hide the project, and the 13 you’ve since received, in the back of your closet to see if anyone notices. While you’re in the closet, your toddler decides to dump an entire bag of flour onto your living room couch.
6. Permanent Removal Phase
The time has come. Your kid hasn’t noticed their artwork has gone missing or they daren’t say anything after the flour incident. When purging, do not EVER place it on the top of the garbage. If you do, the universe will shift and your toddler will choose this time as his first to throw away his juice box by himself. He will see his work of art thrown haphazardly next to last night’s spaghetti and will hate you forever.
Fine, that’s a little dramatic but who wants to be shamed by a tiny human who still craps their pants.
7. Celebratory Wine Phase
This really isn’t a phase as much as an opportunity to drink some wine.
Good job, Mom and Dad. You have successfully cleaned out your home just in time for the holiday projects to come rolling in. Bring on the glitter reindeer!