It was the ear shattering shriek heard throughout the house.
It was very close to the “I’m dying” yell and the “I just vomited” yell.
So I ran towards my 6-year-old son’s room. There he was, in tears and standing over a grocery bag I had just started to fill with trash.
“You’re throwing out my ART?!” Josh asked in amazement.
Yes, in the little garbage bag was a leprechaun mask he made in Kindergarten. Made from construction paper and held up with a stick. The ‘ol leprechaun had been buried under a stack of homemade “Go Red Wings” pictures, Lego magazines and “Fly Guy” books on the tiny chair in his room. Let’s just say leprechaun guy hasn’t been seen from that stack of stuff in about three months, since it came home from school.
And I was on a cleaning binge. I got that sudden, mysterious and crazy energy to run from room to room and throw out every paper, piece of plastic and string that wasn’t nailed down. And I tackled Josh’s room first. In terms of collecting random things and refusing to throw them out, (prizes from Dave & Busters, spider rings, old candy) he’s the worst.
It wasn’t like Mr. Leprechaun was one of only a few works of art he had ever done. It was project #267 out of #2225. And if you don’t believe me, you should see his room, which is a shrine to every piece of paper he’s ever written on. He’ll draw something (it used to be trains, and now its sports scores), go into the kitchen, grab the tape, and put it up on his wall. Every once in a while I’ll stand in his room and think…. I should take away the tape.
“But I worked hard on that,” he started to cry again. “Why do you have to throw it out?”
Why? Because if I held on to every piece of paper he colored, my house would be featured on an episode of Hoarders.
But instantly I felt like the worst mother in the world. How could you throw out precious pieces of art? A little person’s expression of creativity? I realized I didn’t know the rule here. I adore every project my three kids do. I know it takes them time, creativity and hard work. (Or one crayon, a few scribbles and ta-da!) But how long am I supposed to hang on to something? Should I laminate it all? Or just throw it out when they’re not looking?
So I pulled the leprechaun mask out of the trash. He seemed to laugh at me, like “You’re crazy lady. I would have thrown me out too”. And it’s even more disheveled after spending an hour crunched up in the garbage. I don’t think you’ll see this craft in the Louvre or the MoMA any time soon. Fifty years from now, art critics won’t be arguing about the mystery and subtle beauty of the leprechaun. They won’t print replicas on coffee mugs and t-shirts. But for Josh, it is proof of his arty talents. And he is very proud.
I guess DaVinci, Monet and Pollock all had to start somewhere. I just wonder how many drawings and projects their mothers threw out.