Parenting is all about making difficult choices. Some of these are pretty critical to the future of your kid – do they go to private nursery or the nursery at school, for instance. Other decisions may not appear as important, but they still have the capacity to screw your kid up for good. Take my most recent parenting decision – what the hell do I do with all of Toddler L’s shit artwork?
Now I don’t intend to be mean…but chancees are that I’m going to be. I’m VERY proud of Toddler L – she’s a sweet, thoughtful, quirky, confident (nearly) three-year old who is pretty competent at everything she does. But…we can’t all be good at everything we do, can we? Just ask Eddie The Eagle.
It would appear that art isn’t something she excels at. That’s hardly surprising though – I may have got an ‘A’ at GCSE art (why, thank you), but the missus can’t draw for shit. In the 50/50 lottery that is DNA and genes, there was always going to be a significant chance that Toddler L would be burdened with the missus’ lack of creative talent.
That’s fine though as we can naturally steer her towards something she’s good at as she gets older – there’s surely a job which involves making a mess, right? At the moment though, as she’s developing, she’s obviously trying out loads of things as a way of improving her fine and gross motor skills. Unfortunately, a lot of that involves crayons, paint, glue, glitter and other messy crap.
I’m just thankful that I don’t have to get involved. I hate crafty stuff and messy play, so am relieved that one of the unexpected benefits of nursery is that someone else does that stuff with her. That’s not to say that I’m out of the woods though – oh no.
Firstly, I have to boost her confidence and self-esteem by pretending that the wad of dead trees I’m given from nursery is praise-worthy. A little something like – “Oh, that’s brilliant, Toddler L. I can totally see that it’s a…erm…erm…what is it?”. Or how about – “Wow. That’s so creative. I really like the way that you’ve rebelled by not keeping the paint inside the lines. Look, you’ve even got it on your jumper too…”
Secondly – and the basis of my most recent parenting decision – is what do I do with all of her artwork? The kid has poured time, energy and passion into her paintings and drawings. No matter how bad they are, I feel pretty harsh just getting rid. But then again, we already have so much toddler-related crap in the house that these masterpieces are just something else to sit on the side – will she miss that bit of paper which has spud prints and Dairy Milk wrappers stuck to it?
Just sorting out some of Toddler L’s artwork from nursery. I feel really harsh throwing any of it, but to be frank, it’s all a bit shit.
— The DADventurer (@The_dadventurer) July 23, 2017
Of course, I’m being purposefully callous. It’s fantastic seeing the stuff she creates – some of it I even recognise! In fact, we still have the canvas masterpiece she created as a baby on our living room wall. But there is a genuine question as to what you do with this stuff?
When I mentioned this on social media the other day, I got some good responses. Some people store them in a memory box, others take photos so that they have digital copies and others create displays – be it full wall or painting of the week etc. Obviously, some just throw it away too.
I thought that the photo thing was genius and offers a guilt-free solution to the problem. By taking a snap, you have evidence of the artwork, meaning you can look back on it in the future and reminisce about how amazing those grey splodges on card were. You can then happily stick the masterpieces in the bin so that it doesn’t physically take over your house.
Something else I’ve also done is create a Toddler L Art Wall which features some of her better pieces. We’d previously stuck some of her stuff to the kitchen cupboard doors, but this felt very in your face and they kept falling off. Now though, I’m using a wall on the way up to our office – it’s the perfect place to create the balance of being on display versus being out of the way. It says ‘I’m a proud parent, but I don’t need to shout about it or look at it every day’.
What do you do with your kid’s artwork? Do you have a child with an artistic future? Are you sentimental or cold-hearted when it comes to what they make? Let me know below!