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Kids artwork, or meltdowns at the recycling bin

I get better and better about recycling all the time. Even a month ago I’d put the Styrofoam tray the chicken comes on in the garbage, handling it as little as possible and treating like the possibly-salmonella-contaminated toxic waste it is. But now I wash that Styrofoam tray and I put it in the recycling bin instead. Excuse me while I pat myself on the back.

There is one area where I usually do not recycle, and that is when I am cleaning out the kids’ artwork files. Because if the kids see their precious masterpieces in the recycling bin, we’re doomed to an evening of sulking or worse, despite all nose-growing attempts to convince the child that the artwork was there only by accident.

It is impossible to keep all the kids’ artwork. I know; I tried with Alfs. He brought home so many pieces from pre-school that we could have wallpapered the walls of our townhouse several times over.  When we moved, I was able to weed out most of it. I kept what I felt were the representative pieces of his various periods (blue period, red period, stick-figure period). There was so much going on around that move that it was a long while before he realized that his art bin was less full than it had been, and when he did realize it, we talked and he was okay with it. He now has his own portfolio in which to hold onto his favorite pieces.

With Woody, I tried weeding out on a weekly or monthly basis. It was then that I perfected my shocked comment, “Oh my goodness! What is this doing in the recycling! It’s not supposed to be there!” I also learned to have black garbage bags on hand, always. If a child can’t see that their masterpiece is in the bag, they won’t melt down.

With the artwork I do keep, I try to display some of it. I’m especially pleased when a new and interesting piece of work arrives home on a standard-sized piece of paper that slides nicely into a standard-sized frame. Oddly enough, we have a bathroom that is perfect for a rotating display of child work. I find that the art is really noticed, especially by guests, because people actually, um, sit down and look around.

I’ve seen other solutions to displaying artwork that I thought were great. One is a cable curtain rod with clips for the curtain. Replace the curtain with artwork and you have your very own rotating gallery. Heck, forget kid artwork, I’d like something like that for some of my favorite photographs.

Even with these efforts we seem to have too much child artwork around – or we haven’t optimized how we keep it. Most of it is Sunshine’s now. She’s deep in a solid color period. Everything is a single color, and usually pink. Sunshine seems to have an even sharper eagle eye for what goes where and has a terrific memory. Recently she asked for her solid gray painted penguin (she painted a paper solid gray, the teacher cut it into penguin shape) that she made in November, I think.

I’m still “looking” for that.

Points and Prizes Keyword: GALLERY worth 50 points good through 02/10/08.

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