Monday, January 17, 2011

But Mom.....Recycle.....

“But Mom, why do you throw away my stuff?” My oldest asked one night when I was tucking him in bed----referring to all those papers and art projects he brings home from school and sees me routinely put into the recycling.

I pondered my response, “Well, I don’t throw them all away. I keep the really pretty ones you make.” He seemed OK with my reasoning, but then I was afraid I was sending the message that all his handwriting, math, and reading worksheets were somehow not as grand or spectacular as his sunflower painting that I plan on mating and framing. But the thing is, they aren’t--at least not for the long term.

I know some mothers, my sister, who are quite sentimental and keep almost everything their children bring home---struggling to throw away even the slightest hint of artistic genius.

But I also know I am not alone in my resolve to purge and clean. A good friend of mine told me of a time that she and her kids went to the library and took part in a craft activity. After creating their near Picasso’s, all her children handed her their creations and darted for the van. She took this opportunity to toss them gingerly into the trash can right by the exit door. One of the librarians took offense, “Wow, I was never that calloused as a mother!”

I’m sure I have offended many Sunday school teachers when they hand me, with pride, the creations they’ve facilitated for my kids. These Bible creations often get smashed on the drive home by muddy tennis shoes. These works of art lay lifeless on the van floor.

Then there are those projects that look way too good to be anything my children did with their own hands. These are actually worse. I really don’t want to hang on display something that a 20-year-old volunteer created out of old Christmas cards and construction paper.

Still, my son’s remark made me feel a bit guilty. Maybe I should start a file for him, a special place he can put all those worksheets---feeling that all his work is prized and of equal value. Then when he ages and gets a little life perspective we can remove the work together to the burn pile. Or, if he really wants to keep them, they’ll be out of my way, resting quietly in our file box...waiting for the day when he turns 18, moves out of the house (This is what happens, right?), and takes his folder of academic documentation with him.

But I know myself, and I know I will most likely keep doing what I do....keeping my son’s work for a while, but then quickly and quietly moving these papers out of my house and to another, better place---the recycling drawer.


Heather said...

K asks me the exact same thing. I keep all the art projects, the books and when his writing starts coming home special pieces of those. I bought under the bed wrapping paper boxes and each boy has one under his bed for all the stuff from school that we are keeping. I don't have it laying around the house, and it is in a safe spot.

Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot Rebekah for getting your facts straight!!!! I don't keep almost everything my kids do. But I am sentimental (that part is true) and probably keep a percentage (maybe 10 to 20% depending on what it is) of their work and art and put it in nicely displayed, organized, notebooks which are put very orderly in the craft room, not cluttering up the house.

Rebekah said...

Pst, L....hyperbole is a literary devise. :)

Jen Rouse said...

You are not alone! I put the discarded stuff in the veeeerrry bottom of the recycle bin, so hopefully they won't see me throwing away their creations. 90% of the time they never ask what happened to them.

heather said...

I have a box where I store special creations. The rest is tossed. A lot gets tossed. For super special items my boys have a "special box" in their room they can save what they want in that box, but if it gets too full, they have to clean some things out.

And, Jen, I too hide things that I throw away. I even do this with little toys that are just junk. They usually don't even notice. Although awhile back I tossed a little plastic football. I had forgotten that A was going to use it as a form around which to create a bird's nest. Oops. I felt terrible. It was perfect for shaping a nest around and I had tossed it. But really one regret out of so many things tossed, the odds are still in favor of tossing things.

Rebekah said...

Oh yes...tossing toys is a must!