I sped up again, but — DARN! Another car snagged the parking spot before I could get there. The mall parking lot was jammed full. What for, I don’t know. We weren’t going to there to shop. Rather, we were going there to see my son’s artwork, which was being displayed in an ongoing county-wide art show of work by school kids ages kindergarten through 12th grade.
“Everybody must be here for the art show!” Nick, then not quite 7, exclaimed, and immediately, I adored him both for his childlike optimism and his naivete. Chances are, people weren’t flocking there to see his killer whale drawing. They were probably there because there was a sale at the Gap.
We found his artwork in the hallway on the second floor near JC Penny’s. Nick was proud of his very first art show, but I was more relieved than anything. The child who could barely write his name back in preschool, the kid who brought home pink scribbles for two years and called it “artwork,” had overcome his fine motor skill “issues” so well that his drawing was chosen to represent his school in the county art show.
This drawing, I didn’t throw out. But I didn’t keep all of his artwork year after year, and certainly not during his prolific killer whale period. It would have been easy to stick it in the attic, piling up painting after drawing of some sort of whale or train or cityscape. That’s what mommies do, right?
But I’m with the parents in today’s New York Times article, “Mom You’re One Tough Art Critic,” especially with the one who said, “We’re not going to build an addition on the back for every piece of crayon art they’ve ever done.” It’s one thing to praise their work and quite another to end up on an episode of “Hoarders.” Besides, even they knew that their colorings of Jesus talking to Easter lambs was best suited for scratch paper, not frames.
Not everything my kids create is fridge-worthy.
I know, I know. That sounds so Tiger Momof me. But unlike Amy Chua, I have never returned a birthday card to my children, demanding better work. I praise, and then I save some and chuck the rest, especially anything involving glued macaroni and/or various shades of glitter. Doesn’t everybody? Why is this worthy of a New York Times article?
Because our generation of parents agonizes over hurting our children’s feelings and thereby ruining their psyches for life, that’s why. If they see their artwork in the recycling bin 24 hours after bringing it home, they might feel “worthless,” as the article stated.
Surely, there’s an art to chucking your kids’ art, or at least an unwritten rule on time-frame. It’s like that Seinfeld episode where he throws out his girlfriend’s greeting card immediately after receiving it. You can throw it out, but not like a piece of gum.
Nowadays, Nick manages his own artwork disposal. In fact, some of his stuff is so good, it’s replaced what we had on the walls in the living room. The rest? It’s in the recycling bin, I suppose. I don’t ask.
Tell us: When is it okay to chuck your kids’ artwork?