Memorabilia Overload: When Your Kid isn’t Picasso

Photo by Aaron Burden

Dear people of the world (or maybe just America, I have no idea how widespread this problem is)… I would like to know what exactly the point is in keeping every piece of paper my child scribbles on, glues together, or otherwise christens with his imagination. What is the end game here? Are there adults out there who take great pleasure in going through all their old crafts, drawings, and creations from when they were six? Is there any adult who enjoys seeing the work of another adult from when they were a child? I mean for real, not just because you’ve only been dating for a month or you are that person’s mom. Is this just some sort of societal test for parents to determine how much we actually cherish our little hellions?

“Well I see she held on to the finger painting from preschool last year, but where are the everyday drawings? Does she not understand that someday this time will be gone and there won’t be anyone making her special drawings of a turtle!?!?!?!”

“Oh, your mom didn’t save any of your stuff? Mine did… she’s always loved and supported everything I do. Too bad, man.”

No. This is not what happens. What happens is that the mom who “lovingly” saves all your artwork hands it to you when you are 26 and finally moving out of her house (because she wants it out of HER house) and you take 30 minutes to look at it before dumping it in the trash. And that is what everyone does because it would we weird to do anything besides trash it or perhaps continue to store it away until you can bore your own kids with it in 10 years. Maybe if you’re Picasso or some other famous artist whose names currently escape me because I’ve been folding laundry for 4 hours, then I can see the value in keeping it all. But won’t pretending your kid might someday be Picasso when clearly they are not Picasso probably cause a whole host of other more serious and non-artwork related problems? This is not to say, however, that I’m not extremely impressed by the mom who has her children’s artwork preserved and organized in some sort of elaborate, color-coded system. This woman probably is so together that to worry about where to put a few sheets of paper is like wondering where to put a dirty sock (In the laundry, family. In. The. Laundry.) So really this is not a problem of the super-organized-super-together mom, it’s a problem for the rest of us. And I would just like to reiterate: WHY?? My best guess is that it is because we have not yet found a way to tell a four-year-old that though their picture is nice (for a four year old) there is no reason for us to keep it past the end of this day because, well, it’s really not that exciting. There is nothing worse for a four year old than thinking that your own mother doesn’t believe that you and everything you do is absolutely amazing — the woman has been clapping and cheering for you for years after all — and so to hear that your scribbles are anything less than museum quality would be quite devastating. And since no mom yet has figured out how to approach this topic with a four year old, instead we either save everything or find a way to “lose” it or explain that somehow Daddy didn’t understand what an important scribble it was and mistakenly threw it out… in the outside trash… which is now by the road for pick up. Bummer. Luckily there will be five more masterpieces we can save tomorrow.

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