The Issue of Never Ending Kids' Artwork

by Keenan McGrath
Originally Published: 

Walking to my 3-year-old’s preschool class today, I was cheerfully directed to a cubby full of my son’s artwork. It was all I could do not to roll my eyes at the teacher as she stood there smiling proudly at the pile of dried paint scribbles. I placated her with a smile I hoped hid my contempt, took the pages lovingly to my car, drove home, and promptly threw the entire stack in the trash.

Horrible mother? Nope, just a practical one.

These teachers send home every damn piece of paper my kid even runs a crayon over, to show me the time the children are spending doing creative things like “art.” I wanna say to them, Honey, let me save you the trouble of going through all that crap. I send my kid to you every day so that I have 3 hours of time to myself. They can be cage-fighting on the playground for all I care, so long as I can get to the gym and the grocery store undisturbed. And forgive me, but I can find very little “artistry” in any of it. I mean, what the hell even is this?

Or this lovely one entitled : Patrick’s Egg Painting…

Is it supposed to BE an egg? Was it painted USING an egg? Is there an egg involved here in ANY way?

And then of course there’s the crap the teachers “help” them do. Look at this nonsense, like my 3-year-old, who can’t even hold a pair of damn scissors, has perfectly cut out these stars and affixed them to the ribbons with scotch tape. The last time that little monster got ahold of some scotch tape, it took me 20 minutes to unwind it from his hair!

And you know I’m no prude, but do we really need a penis-shaped rocket ship hanging on the fridge?

Look, I have saved a box of crap for each of my Tater Tots, just enough so that if A&E needs background shots for a biopic on my future president—or terrorist—I will look like the adoring mother no one believes me to be. And I do look forward to the Christmas ornaments with their little faces on them, and something made out of their handprints on Mother’s Day, but all that crap in between goes right in the trash. Knucklehead Patrick certainly doesn’t care. I held up one of his lovely paint smears the other day and said, “oh look at this art you did for Mommy, can you tell me what it is?” He glanced up from the monster trucks he was crashing into each other with a blank stare of unrecognition, shrugged, and went back to crashing the trucks. So yeah, that one’s worth saving for a lifetime.

Now that Amazing Grace is a bit older, I do have to be slightly more delicate with her, and thankfully the subjects of her work are significantly more recognizable. I look through it all, making the appropriate coos of praise, and then I shove it all into a cabinet until it’s been forgotten about. Eventually that cabinet starts looking like an episode of Hoarders, and I dump it all in the trash when she’s at school.

A few times she has caught her pictures in the trash and started wailing and carrying on, and I’ve had to just sit her down and explain the situation.

“Look here honey,” I say, “you are a fabulous artist, but I am just not saving every single thing you make. Period. So you need to look at your work and decide if this is really your very best work, and if it is then I will display it, but if it’s not then it has got to go and you can go work on something new.”

She mulls this over and decides that I am right (as always), this is not her best work, and tosses the picture in the trash. (Point for Queenie)

To prove to her that I will take her best work seriously, I have created this kids’ art wall to feature their most fabulous art. We are currently taking the term “fabulous” very loosely with Knucklehead, so as not to give his future therapist too much to work with right off the bat.

Remember friends, as brilliant and talented as your tiny Impressionists are right now, in 15 years you will not know what in the hell that picture was and why in the hell it is still taking up space in your house!

Related post: A Letter to My Children Concerning Their Artwork

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