Friday, September 29, 2006

Guilt du jour

My children are extremely creative. Oh yes. Extremely creative. They are…downright prolific artists. Yessir, they surely have a handle on the ‘art’ thing. Yup. Lots and lots and lots of art coming into this house. Oodles of it. I’m pretty sure there’s carpet in the front room, somewhere…under all the art…

Send. Shovels.

Finally, I decided that this was it. I was going to harden my heart, weed out the art, put the ‘best’ ten up on the wall and the rest? Out!

Have you ever tried to do this?

First of all, apart from the things that are just scribbles, I defy you to decide on ‘best’ art from your children. Each piece has its own charm.

And now that they can write, they do things like “I love you Mommy!” and “To Beautiful Mommy from Boo Bug” (with backward letters!) and so forth.

Go ahead. Just throw that away. Go on. I’ll watch.

But I was motivated. I had to be motivated. I swear I am not exaggerating when I say I had three full trash bags – those big kitchen sized ones – full of art that had come home from school. Macaroni art. Painted art. Crayoned art. Art with pencil, art with magazine clippings, art with feathers, art with glue and sand.

Way more art than I have house to put it in.

And yet, throwing it away feels like…throwing away their childhood. Their innocence. Their growing sense of self. And taking a picture of it first, or scanning it, just isn’t the same. It can remind you what the piece was like, but it doesn’t have the same feel.

It doesn’t smell of Elmer’s Glue and Crayola wax.

At the corner of Pragmatism and Sentimentality dwells Angst.

Intellectually I know that I cannot possibly keep every scrap of every drawing my children make. It would be madness to try. I’d be on the news one of these nights, the crazy cat lady who had to be lifted through a hole in her roof from a rat-infested Den – the front door having been swallowed up over a decade before by the endless stream of brightly colored construction paper with bits of tattered feathers and cracked macaroni glued to it.

Emotionally I can’t stand throwing it away. It feels like betrayal, it feels like…Bad Mothering. I have visions of my children as adults, lying on psychiatrist couches sobbing, “And…and…and…I drew a unicorn princess with stars and a mermaid on a rock? And…and…and…{sob} she THREW IT AWAY!!!!!!”

That my own mother undoubtedly threw away 99% of the art I ever made without causing me any undue emotional trauma is beside the point.

That my own children have never seemed to be bothered (or even notice, frankly) when their bags and bags of art mysteriously disappear is likewise beside the point.

It feels awful to me. And I hate doing it.

Yet I must do it.

And I made myself do it.

I went through each piece, admiring and taking pictures or scanning as I went, until finally, an hour before midnight, I crept out to the trash tote and slipped them gently into it.

I still feel guilty. I still have a curious awareness of those bags full of bright stick figures and backwards lettering, out in the stinking tote with the diapers and rotting debris from the kitchen.

But I’ll get over it.

Because by this time next month? I’ll have another three bags full strewn all over the Den, from front door to master bathroom…


Anonymous said...

I have an attic full of those things, even though I was pretty remorseless about getting rid of them too. I plan to give them to the perpetrators when they move out of the house.

NeedleTart said...

My sewing room is decorated in early Kindergarten. Not only my own two kids, but what are you to do when a sweet five-year-old looks up at you and says, "I made this just for you."? Even though it's a red scribble. Be grateful you only have your own art to worry about.

A. Klemmer said...

"At the corner of Pragmatism and Sentimentality dwells Angst."

What a beautiful line that is.

So bloody accurate, too.

We have reams of stuff they did when they were younger. And because my dad once gave away, get this, my bike without asking 'cause I hadn't ridden it in some time, I have a really hard time tossing anything. Because they have come back and said, "Hey, where's my..." So my bride gets that chore. "Maybe in storage," she'll say. You know, dumpster storage.

21st Century Mom said...

You're doing really well. I just kept tossing them in a big box and now I have a big box full of juvinile artwork in my attic that needs going through. I once took pictures of some stuff and tossed out the original. Those are the only ones I ever look at. You are on to something - trust me. And reward yourself for getting to this little taks before the fridge fell over frontwards from the weight.