January 27, 2011

Gather Yer Kids' Rosebuds While Ye May

The Middle East is in revolt, the double dip is starting, it's snowpocalypse all over again, and I'm missing a quarter's worth of tax receipts. What else can we stress about? Ah yes, the fate of all the kid's art! Thanks, NY Times!

The Times' attempt to be exhaustive and service-y by presenting art-appreciative parents with a barrage of toss/edit/store/display/save options is actually misleading on a deeply philosophical level:

Still, the curator of the refrigerator door can't be too ruthless. When Dad de-accessions a new finger painting overnight, Dr. Burton said, "the child quickly learns that this art that they're making is very ephemeral." In other words, worthless.
OK, fine. dumping something as soon as the kid's asleep, yes, that may be ruthless. But you don't have to be the Buddha to know that ephemerality is not worthlessness.

There are all sorts of ephemeral or temporary things in the world--cut flowers, balloons, part decorations, Christmas lights, rainbows, cherry blossoms, a beard--why can't a kid's art be one of them

Give the kid a designated spot in the house, and rotate the stuff together. We already had more art than we have walls, so it's natural/logical for the kid to feel her output has a place in the house--and in the storage unit. But we still edit and throw tons away.

Kids who are still not fully aware of the concepts of time are not going to be fixated on months- or year-old art projects; it's almost entirely the parents' hangups and anxiety over the idea of throwing out a potential future touchstone, and that he'll curse your name on his deathbed for burning the sled he painted.

The problem becomes the stuff that you pay for; it's a snow day, and so the kids are at the pottery place right now, in fact, making some more tacky little ceramic tchotchkes for $20 a hit. If you don't want to live in a finger-painted Hummel showroom, what, pray tell are you supposed to do with those things? Hmm?

When Children's Art Takes Over The Home [nyt]
Related; One Million Drawings! Rhoda Kellogg Childhood Art Archive

3 Comments

Gravity happens.

(or is that "happens.")

That's what Grandparents are for.

We have one of those art student big manila portfolios; stuff goes in there. He can sort it out later (or do what the neighbor's teen daughter did a few months ago, and throw literally everything from her childhood away. We learned an important lesson in recycling that day, and are enjoying our hundreds of new colored pencils, polished rocks, magnets, beads, wooden boxes, fairy figurines, et c).

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