Caught In the Act

There’s an island in our kitchen where papers go to die. I think you’re supposed to use this kind of table/rack for kitchen things, but that’s not what happens at our house. It’s a dumping ground. A few days ago I decided to attack it. Not because of any great desire to be a better person, but because I went to toss something else on the pile and caused a landslide.

I set Sally up with watercolor paints (her current favorite form of artistic expression) and she got busy painting the Earth while I dove into the cause of much of Earth’s troubles: Junk.

My archaeological dig was going really well. I was efficient, tossing item after item. I mean really, if I haven’t touched it since 2007, I don’t need it. Old bank statements, grocery lists, crockpot cookbooks, takeout menus, hey a miniature Halloween snow globe! . . . Look at me, busy little bee. And then:

“Mommy? Why are you frowing away my art projects?”

Why are ruining my life, Mother? Why? Image: hopeandmegan/flickr

Saucer-sized eyes filled with confusion look at me. I want to say “because, sweetie, you make thousands of ‘projects’ and I keep a ton of them. I love you but let’s face it, you’re not exactly Picasso.” But I don’t say that. Because she has made me feel like the suckiest mother in the world! I’ve been punched in the gut. I’ve hurt my child’s ego. So I turn on my oscar-worthy acting skills and look, surprised, at the trash can. “Oh my goodness! I had no idea. Sally, I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to throw these important projects away. I meant to set them aside for your baby book. You know Mommy loves all your pictures.”

I dust them off and gingerly set them on the counter. And then a few hours later I trash them, taking care to wedge them under some empty food wrappers. I suck.


15 responses to “Caught In the Act

  1. I do that! Hide them and recycle the papers after the kids leave the house but heed this – becareful how they go out in the blue bag… sometimes they spot them in the bag and you get caught. I’ve fished stuff out and looked surprised it was there all along. .. “What is THAT doing in there!!! I’m glad you caught it!”

    They really do a ton of art work and you can’t really keep them all. Can you?


  2. We have “purgatory” in our house. On top of our very tall washing machine. “Art” goes there, she forgets it, then it gets thrown out, directly to the curb, in the wee hours of the morning. We don’t leave the house until the trash is collected, lest she spot the feathers and glitter with her Superman-like vision. That, or I blame it on the cleaning lady. Currently, I’m hiding her made-from-grocery-bags Thanksgiving pilgrim and Native-American costumes under my bed.

  3. Don’t worry. I suck too. You’ll learn to attack The Pile after midnight. Just make sure you don’t ask Sally to take out the recycling the next day!

  4. I always thought the spare room would be used for visitors, but no, it’s become a storage room. A very disorganised storage room. We call it The Pit.

    One thing that is NOT in The Pit is artwork. Anything special goes on the dining room walls, or the bookcase shelves. Everything else is put in a bag on top of the bookcase. About four times a year, I empty the bag, and remove all the displayed artwork. I carefully arrange each child’s items on our (very large) dining table. Then I photograph them. You can fit about 8 items in each photo.

    The children each have their own scrapbook. In that scrapbook I place their artwork photographs. I also put in those very important awards – like “Congratulations for Participating in our Easter Bonnet Parade”. Also, any stubs from museum visits/trips to the movies etc, photographs of their birthday parties (and other special events), and any invitations they’ve received for friends’ birthday parties. These are all accompanied by a small card with a brief description of the event, and what they liked best about it. It’s like a picture book version of a diary.

    It takes me about an hour to do this. I send the kids to Grandma’s house for a visit so they don’t have the chance to stop me. I know they will notice the missing artwork, so I set up paints on the table and when they arrive home, I announce that we need new artwork on the walls.

    As for old artwork disposal, I have an arrangement with the childless couple next door. They let me use their bins for old art work, and I let them use mine when they have a party. I love my neighbours. And the kids love their scrapbooks.

    I don’t feel like a sucky mother. But that’s mainly because I keep the door of The Pit firmly closed.

    • Your level of organization frightens me. Something tells me your “pit” is like, three items on a spare bed. 🙂 We have that room, too, but we’ve lost some relatives in there it’s so messy.

  5. Dear Conspiracy Cat,

    Please come to my house as soon as possible.

  6. Amanda Onstott

    The art wall can only hold so many thicknesses of paper. If the new art won’t hold with the magnet, the one underneath gets tossed, late at night, folded and pushed behind the other recycling. Great to know I’m not alone. Thanks ladies.

  7. LOL, you do NOT suck. Stop that!

    After having 3 kids, I finally decided that THEY had to go through their art projects, and be self-critics. We save every project for about 6 months in a box with their name on it. After that 6 months, they have to go through the box, and decide what they still think is worth saving.

    They are not allowed to get a second box. This is important if you have any “hoarders-in-training” No. Second. Box.

    Each child still only has 1 box. And someday, they’ll take that box to their own home, so they can dig through it and compare it to their children’s art work. Genetic follow-through!

  8. "PoP"/G-father

    By the way, I still have a box or three in our garage for you….

  9. *snort* Ok, Pop, I’ll be by this weekend, when I drop off the kids. Howzat?

  10. My parents saved our artwork in the basement. When we moved houses when I were in high school, my brother and I had to purge everything ourselves. Parents’ revenge!

  11. This past Christmas, my mom gave me a box of Christmas ornaments that I made when I was little. They were maybe a little cute, but mostly broken and ratty. I immediately threw them all away. Watch out for those boxes from Pop!

  12. What? You can throw your kids art work away? Does that include poetry, masks, stories, clay works of art, binders, homework assignments, term papers, notes passed to friends during class, and tests?

  13. These could one day become the lost files that will be worth thousands if not millions. You’ll kick yourself in the behind for not saving each and every precious scrap of artwork! LOL!

    I too have prolific sons…one who is a rather good artist, the other a creative writer. It’s a painful but necessary evil – a ritualistic purging that happens every 3-4 months.

  14. I too have perfected the Oscar-worthy wide-eyed *gasp* “How did that get in the trash/recycle?!” And yes, I hide them under other items! I swear the mountainous paper pile will be the death of me someday. It is an exercise in futility to try to tidy up…a week or so later it’s back, w/a vengeance.

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