Sometimes I just don’t know the rules.
Since about Week 10 of my pregnancy (5 years ago), I’ve been getting weekly emails from BabyCenter. At first they were weekly updates on the growth and development of my unborn baby (then referred to only as “Bump” – nickname courtesy of my sister Laura) and were incredibly helpful as I managed my own expectations of belly size, activity level, and whatnot. When he was born (and officially transitioned from Bump to Colt) the emails evolved into weekly updates on my “newborn” then my “baby” then my “toddler” and eventually my “preschooler”. After his 5th birthday last month, the subject line of the weekly emails switched to “My Big Kid This Week”. BIG KID, y’all.
I never unsubscribed from the emails because they have never stopped being relevant and helpful. Almost every week for nearly six years I’ve read the email, skimmed the recommended articles at the bottom, and forwarded it to Jeff to do the same. We’ve never done this before. Parenting, that is. We have welcomed the weekly encouragement and perspective and guidance.
But here’s the thing. The emails have been anything but helpful when it comes to my latest challenge.
When to keep. When to toss.
#firstworldproblems? Maybe. But I have no idea what the rule is here. He brings home enough “artwork” in a single day to fill an entire shopping bag. Sometimes, it’s handfuls of tiny pieces of construction paper — that I’m certain he painstakingly cut with his chubby little five-year-old fingers. Sometimes, it’s a stack of drawings — all rainbows or all dinosaurs or all hammers — and I have to pretend I can tell them apart, because “they’re all different, Mommy.”
But sometimes, it’s this:
Forget throwing it away, I’m thinking of having it framed.
Since he’s our only, I’ve never felt the need to purge stuff to “make room”, and I’ve been pretty good about handing down his outgrown clothes — when they aren’t completely beat to hell. But now that he can write his own name on stuff and has moved beyond finger-painted, nonsensical masterpieces to actual, recognizable drawings — I’m lost. Do I keep them ALL? Do I ask HIM which ones to keep? Do I look into building on an addition to the house so we’ll have plenty of room to store everything?
After we saw Scooby Doo, he was reminded that we didn’t have any Scooby Doo books. So he made some. A whole series, really. He had his teacher help him staple paper into a book and he illustrated several episodes of Scooby Doo and the gang. He even chronicled our actual experience at the show that night — complete with shots of the audience and their reactions. His teachers captioned the drawings word-for-word, per his direction. He went on to round out his portfolio with books about sea creatures (a series he calls “Commotion in the Ocean”) and, of course, tools.
But lately – he’s a crafter. A builder. I see an empty mac & cheese box, he sees a table leg, or maybe a toolbox. I see a roll of tape, he sees an afternoon of endless fun. He asks for every empty box, bottle, and bag that comes through this house because he wants it “for building”. He needs materials, people.
Which means the artwork coming home from school — has gone 3D.
And this week — I got a text from his teacher with this photo.
I texted back: Oh, wow – class project??
The answer: Nope. Just his own creation!
Here’s a video tour of his diorama.
Do I have to keep this thing? Should I? Someday when he’s a famous architect or artist, will his biographers come looking for me and shake their heads with pity when I admit that I tossed out all his brilliant, “early” work? Will this video be enough to satisfy them?
So NOW what? This thing doesn’t exactly fit into a file folder.