Tuesday, April 14, 2009


I waited until the children were all outside and then I did it ~ still looking over my shoulder the whole time. I folded each one into as small a square as I could, lifted up the cans of whole tomatoes at the top of the trash and tucked them down under a couple paper plates, careful to put the tomato cans back on top.

After so many years of pulling it off, I still feel pangs of guilt. Even though they'll most likely never know I do it, I can't help but feel like a kind of ingrate or traitor or something. But, I have to be practical, and they so live in the moment, little children, that an object of most dear importance one moment is forgotten the next.

I truly wish I could keep them all, but it would be impossible...

My children's masterpieces, I mean.
I've cherished every single one of them. They're so earnestly and so graciously bestowed, these most sincere of all love notes. And the innocent, whole-hearted love that colors them is more precious to me than a DaVinci would be.

But, seriously, if I kept them all, I'd be swimming now in a sea of brightly crayoned rainbows and potato head sketches. The way I figure it, at five art pieces a day during peak season (Thanksgiving through Easter, because they're indoors so much at that time), between the art-gifting ages of approximately three and ten, multiplied by all ten of my children, I would have over 10,000 pieces of paper stockpiled by now ~ not including the extra work done by my more prolific artists.

Some artwork, though, I have to save. They're either too funny to lose ~ or too perfectly illustrative of the personality of a child to just throw away. These, I tape to the insides of cupboards for their chuckle value and Dan sometimes takes the best to share with his coworkers. Then, after a while, if they've kept their value to us, we relegate them to a special "round file." A round file which we keep ~ not the trashcan.
As you might guess, we have bins and bins of children's clothing stored in one of our outbuildings. (As all big families will tell you, it's a particular kind of jinx to ever, ever get rid of baby clothes.) In a couple of these bins, in between the baby clothes, we've tucked paper towel tubes with names and dates marked on the outside. And inside of these, rolled up for posterity, are the masterpieces of days gone by: Paul's bird lists, Kevin's stick-figure war scenes, Jon's amazingly apt portraits, etc. Every so often, when we're going through our storage, we pull out the masterpiece tubes and reminisce about how quickly time flies. And, we tuck in another paper towel tube full of the art of the younger siblings.

Art like this:

Gabe says this is a portrait of his Daddy.

His Daddy says this is a good representation of how he feels by Friday afternoon.

Cow and happy girl both from Cathy about a year ago or so.

That cow still cracks me up and the little girl never fails to make me smile.

Both of these may have a permanent place on my laundry room bulletin board.

Some of Yuyum's scribblings that the girls translate to be

a balloon, a butterfly and the letter "M" ~

When the children get married, I might decide to make a gift of their artwork to their new spouses.

If I can let them go ~

the drawings, I mean.


Natalie said...

Those are great! Another way to keep those masterpieces precious is to scan them into your computer if you have a scanner. Then you could make CD's for your kids, or use their artwork as backgrounds or make a screensaver slideshow with them. I plan to do that when Clark starts drawing and not eating the crayons. It is a great way to keep clutter out of the house and out of storage bins, even though it may take up more space in your computer. =)

Aimee said...

I love this post, Lisa! I do the SAME THING :) I surreptitiously hide the art that is going "out" -- a friend of mine that does the same thing says we'll see it all again in Heaven ;)

But some things I keep forever -- like a 5 yo Francie's drawing of me that says: "I like my Mother. I LOVE my Mommy."

It cracks me up that she differentiated between "mother" and "mommy" -- I think "mother" is the disciplinarian! :)

GrandmaK said...

Indeed, I see some real work that might even rival Picasso! My children always loved to draw. Well, except maybe Jimmy...He'd rather trade baseball cards. Have a grand day! Cathy

MightyMom said...

well, it would be a real conversation starter if you wallpapered your living room with all those drawings.......

maybe I should do that?

Bia said...

Here's what I do so I don't drown in artwork: during the school year I have a huge picnic basket in which I put all their work/art work as it comes home. Then, sometime during the summer, I go through the basket and pull out 10-15 of my favorites. I take close-up photos of these and put them in their school scrapbook. THEN, from this group, I pick my all-time favorites (I limit myself to no more than 10) and put them in a three ring binder (one for each child).

I get rid of the rest, and the basket is ready and waiting for the next school year.

But it is hard to get rid of them...I like your idea of saving them for a gift when they marry.