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Some Of Your Kid's Art Is Garbage

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Momlogic's Andrea: Sure I think my kid is talented, but she's no Van Gogh.

If there's anything all mothers have in common it's that we all think our kids are artistic geniuses. From the moment of their first scribble on a piece of paper - or usually on the wall - we're amazed at their choice of color the length and thickness of their lines and the way they can wear down a crayon in 2.5 seconds.
So what compelled me to take a piece of my two-year-old's artwork and shove it into the garbage can? Truth is: I'm already running out of ideas of what to do with it all of her pieces of self-expression.

Since starting pre-school a mere three weeks ago, she has brought home these "art projects" daily. It's like we've enrolled her in an arts and crafts sweatshop --  all day long her tiny hands, weary with exhaustion, glue macaroni and cotton balls to construction paper.

When I told a friend I had tossed the one of her pictures she freaked out on me:

"I would NEVER throw away anything my kid has done, it's a part of them!"

OK, seriously? Not all art is equal. And I've been to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Some of it just isn't that good. Surely not everything is worth saving?

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6 comments so far | Post a comment now
Anonymous September 19, 2008, 6:29 PM

I really think that everything IS worth saving … when your daughter is 18 and goes off to college and you’re crying in your soup looking through your treasure chest of memories do you want to say to yourself, “I wish I hadn’t thrown away my baby’s art like yesterday’s rotten banana”? Surely there’s a closet or a garage where you can keep these precious memories. After all, she was forced to make them for you, so maybe you should keep them.

Michelle September 19, 2008, 7:27 PM

I do save quite a bit, but it’s impossible to save every piece of artwork for just one child over 18 yrs let alone 2 children. I pick one or two of the weeks best work and throw the rest away. Of course this is done when no one is looking and I make sure it goes in deep into the trash. God forbid one of the kids goes to throw something away and see their art in it. Which has happened on more than one occasion. So NO I do not save everything. Just the sweetest.

Melisa September 19, 2008, 7:50 PM

It is simply not practical to keep every piece of art your child makes. Yes, it sounds sweet and sentimental, but shouldn’t the goal really be to love the child and not the stuff? Keeping some of it is fine for memories to share with them as they grow, but holding onto every hanger mobile that comes home, every piece of paper that has squiggles drawn on it, and every magazine collage they make does not mean you love them more. And throwing some of it away does not mean you love them less. It could simply mean you are teaching them a valuable lesson in clean living and having a well ordered home versus becoming a pack-rat. For some of us storage space is already a problem! I would rather discreetly weed out a few art projects than have storage bins in every corner of my home taking up precious play space! :)

Julie W September 20, 2008, 11:24 AM

I save a few things from each year of preschool, especially a project from a special holiday, or that has been laminated by the teacher, or include a photo of my daughter. They will make great keepsakes for remembering this time of her life. The rest of the scribbles and collages (with things falling off!) get very, carefully deposited in the recycling bin!!

Teese September 20, 2008, 12:44 PM

This made me laugh pretty hard. My daughter’s just discovering crayons, so I’m still plastering everything up on the fridge, but I wonder about the future of art in this family—I’m an art historian with a degree in fashion, dad is a game designer with a traditional art background. Often, we’ve discussed the routes she will go—either really sucky at it or really awesome. So I guess its just wait and see.

Sonja September 22, 2008, 10:39 AM

When my kids bring something not particularly unique home, I put it on the ‘fridge for a week or two, then in the garbage. When they ask about it, I say “we’ve enjoyed it now so it’s job is done.” They accept that. I do keep most original written compositions and a few “special” art projects in a folder with their name on it.

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