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What to do with the garbage your kid won't stop bringing home

The definitive list of what to keep and what to toss from the school year

Kids are disgusting. Here's how to deal.

You know that thing your kids do when they have an empty candy wrapper, or a piece of paper, or the crust of a sandwich and — instead of walking it over to the garbage can that’s 4 feet away — they hand it to you? Most of the time, you open your hand and grab it. That’s probably because you’ve been taking their random garbage for so many years that you don’t even notice it anymore. Plus, you might be hungry for those sandwich crusts later.

Here’s a fun fact: The exact same bullshit happens at school. Except there, the teachers don’t have time to replicate your bad parenting habits all day. So your kid just shoves his random garbage into his desk. Where it piles up, until he brings it all home at the end of the school year.

Preschool garbage had potential.

Little kids think their personal creations are amazing. This is partly your fault for clapping when they pooped. But in preschool, your child’s self-admiration was still cute. The teachers sent it all home in his backpack because it reflected new “skills.”

Finger painting! Nature-observation drawing! Glitter-glue blobs in egg cartons! You cherished the blob art because — even though it looked like the work of a left-brained baby chimp — you still thought your kid might be a creative genius. Better save it, in case he turns out to be the Picasso of glitter glue.

More: 25 apology notes from kids who are totally sorry, not sorry

By late elementary school, it's just garbage.

By second grade, his glue blobs still looked exactly like glue blobs. Along with his poor skills, he also held on to an unrealistic faith in the nexus between garbage and genius. At no time is this misguided faith more apparent than the last day of school, when homeroom teachers hand out used paper bags to all students and instruct them to empty out their desks. Does your kid dispense of anything smashed in the back of that hoarder hutch? Of course not. Because you’re not there to take it, or lavish it with undeserving praise. Instead, he dumps everything into the bag, schleps the bag home, puts it down in the front hallway and — when you finally notice it and ask what the hell it is — insists he wants to “save it.” For sure. Save the desk poop. Picasso knows best.

The definitive list of what to keep and what to toss from the school year
Image: Abrams Books

Know when it's time to toss.

Moms feel so bad about disappointing their children. If only we actually liked their desk poop. Listen up, young moms: Preschool teachers don’t either. The only reason they send everything home is that all that glitter-glue shit is cluttering up their hallway space, which they need for wet mittens and extra diapers. Put Junior’s hoarding in perspective. If he left the bag sitting in the foyer, it can’t be that precious to him. So you have two options. First, you can toss the entire bag. The benefit of this approach is that some of this desk garbage may actually be perishable, so by tossing it, you’ll prevent ants from colonizing the living room. The other option is to go through the bag.

Do it the first chance you get, or by August 16, whichever comes first. Make sure your kid isn’t home, so he can’t give you any input. If you choose this option, be sure to make only two piles. One pile is for reusable items in good condition. The other pile is for shit that is useless, broken,and/or sloppily made. (P.S. The second pile will be much, much larger.)

More: What happens when a mom goes full Marie Kondo on her kid's stuff

Pile #1: To Be Saved

  • 1 empty folder
  • 1 nearly empty notebook, in good condition
  • 1 old plastic bag containing $6
  • 1 unopened tube of antibacterial hand gel
  • 3 glue sticks
  • 15 pens and pencils
  • 1 empty pencil box
  • 1 compass
  • 1 protractor
  • 4 pairs of socks
  • 1 recorder
  • 1 calculator
  • 1 Boy Scout badge

Pile #2: To Be Tossed

  • 1 blue faceless rubber hedgehog, possibly found on the playground
  • 1 free paper bookmark that reads EXCELLENT in rainbow block letters
  • 1 desk name tag, “decorated” with the cursive phrases “I’m awesome” and “Hey peeps”
  • 1 old plastic bag containing nothing
  • 1 ripped-out coloring-book page of baby seals on an iceberg, badly colored
  • 8 other sloppy pictures
  • 1 container of Altoids containing 3 Altoids
  • 1 box of Tic Tacs containing 2 Tic Tacs
  • 1 box of Tic Tacs, inside a box of Altoids, containing 1 Altoid
  • 1 piece of paper, laminated, called Candy Trading Sheet, listing relative values (1 piece of gum = 2 Altoids = 3 Tic Tacs)
  • 1 Santa Claus Pez dispenser, never used because nobody actually likes Pez
  • 1 duct-tape coin purse, hopefully not made during school hours
  • 2 index card notes that read, “Do you like me? Reply and Return,” both unreturned
  • 1 package of ear plugs containing 1 dirty ear plug
  • 1 plastic Slinky, mangled
  • 12 incomplete worksheets, never turned in
  • 4 returned math tests, never shown to parents
  • 3 Popsicle sticks covered in either glue or spit
  • 1 purple plastic Easter egg
  • 1 half-eaten gourmet coconut-curry chocolate bar

Reminder! Kids pine for their former desk garbage only if they can see it. Always bury shit at the bottom of the trash can and, just to be safe, cover it with spoiled coleslaw and used coffee grounds so they won’t even look.

Reprinted with permission from. Sh*tty Mom for All Seasons: Half-@ssing It All Year Long, by Alicia Ybarbo and Mary Ann Zoellner with Erin Clune. The follow up to the New York Times bestseller New York Times Bestseller Sh*tty Mom: The Parenting Guide for the Rest of Us, the book hits shelves April 5. You can get more Sh*tty Mom on their website.

Before you go, check out our slideshow below:

The definitive list of what to keep and what to toss from the school year
Image: AdamDawn/Reddit
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