Ari shares why your child’s artwork makes an ideal gift for loved ones this Christmas.

Paper. Paper. So. Much. Paper. All sent home to Mama. White paper decorated with random crayon scribbles. Blue paper with splotches of purple paint – a Grape-Monster, perhaps? Yellow paper with little felt circles, and plastic goggly eyes and feathers-for-hair glued on. Paper with the number 7 written on it seven times. And another with the number 8. And then there’s 9 and 10 and 11 and 12 and, good grief, why are there so many numbers in the world? This could go on to infinity if we’re not careful.

They are works of art, of course. All of them. My son’s Kindy work, proudly presented each week in a show and tell, inserted into plastic sleeves and sent home for, well, a life of floating around in haphazard piles if I’m being honest about it.

I did Google, ‘TOO MUCH KID’S ARTWORK – HELP!!!!’ and stumbled upon some blogs written by the kind of organised mothers I suspect are Stepford Alien-Robots.

There’s just SO MUCH of the stuff. I don’t know what to do with it all. I can’t bring myself to throw away all the painstaking work, the carefully drawn numbers, the artistically painted Grape-Monster-Thing. So I shove it in the expanding pile on the dining room table, to be dealt with later. And that involves cursing as I rummage through the pile, trying to find a bill or a bank statement.

To be honest, as lovely as my child’s Grape-Monsters and number 7s are, they are complicating my life by adding another layer of Messy Chaos to a world dominated by levels of Messy Chaos, which were unimaginable pre-children.

It has also occurred to me that I may have hoarding tendencies. This is just the beginning of it. KINDY FOR GOD’S SAKE. We have another gazillion years of school to get through. More Grape-Monsters, projects, craftworks – probably involving an inordinate amount of detachable glitter – and God knows how many numbers. Let’s not even get into the Alphabet. That’s 26 more bits of paper right there.

I did Google, ‘TOO MUCH KID’S ARTWORK – HELP!!!!’ and stumbled upon some blogs written by the kind of organised mothers I suspect are Stepford Alien-Robots. They suggest I do stuff like:

1. Construct a Rotating Art Gallery in the bedroom with a bit of craftily strung string. The week’s creations are clipped to the string from Monday-Sunday, after which they are removed so next week’s art can be displayed and discussed. I don’t know what happens when the artwork is removed. Possibly someone files it in a specially hired warehouse. The Rotating Art Gallery is apparently crucial to your child’s self esteem because they are surrounded by their genius 24/7. If you do not have a Rotating Art Gallery, you should be consumed with Guilt. I did feel a bit bad after reading about this, what with all my neglected artwork piles and all, so I stuck a green paper frog my son had made onto his bookcase with sticky tape. One down, five billion to go.

2. Digitally photograph the week’s artwork every Sunday. Send it to print every Monday. Collect prints every Tuesday. Laminate prints every Wednesday. Bind prints into weekly artwork binder every Thursday. Label and file binder every Friday, and then ditch those hard copy babies when the kids aren’t looking on Saturdays. Do this every week of every year for the next gazillion years, depending on how many kids you have (tip: do NOT, I repeat do NOT, have fourteen children. That is a hella lot of laminating.) Hire ten warehouses to store the binders and set up a special Artwork Printing & Binding bank account, to which you contribute 50 bucks a week, to fund the stuff. Who has time for this sort of nonsense? TELL ME, WHO HAS TIME?

It’s crucial to distribute the artwork cards happily, so they become someone else’s problem in the form of a Unique Personal Gift rather than a Weird, And Possibly Tightarse, Gesture.

3. Use your kid’s artwork as Birthday, Christmas, Easter, Valentines and Mother’s-Father’s-Day cards for every single person who is even vaguely in the family orbit. The postman counts and that plumber who unblocked the loo last year is a shoo-in. They won’t feel weird about getting Grape-Monster Valentine’s Day cards, promise. Put ‘em on the card list for the next twenty years. The key to this strategy is to come up with some extra Celebration Days, just because you can. You could do a ‘Yay, More Swimming Lessons!’ fiesta, or a ‘Welcome To The Witching Hour!!!!’ day or a ‘I Love Playgrounds So Much!’ party. Doesn’t matter. Make up as many Celebration Days as you like, and get busy with those paper piles. It’s crucial to distribute the artwork cards happily, so they become someone else’s problem in the form of a Unique Personal Gift rather than a Weird, And Possibly Tightarse, Gesture. Insist your brother pins your Unique Number 11 card, for his fortieth birthday, to his fridge and point out the self-esteem-building honour to your kid. Do a happy dance, but just quietly on the inside. You are a Good Mother.

The Rotating Art Gallery is apparently crucial to your child’s self esteem because they are surrounded by their genius 24/7.

Okay, so number 1&2 I can’t get down with but number 3 is freaking genius. Just between you and me, I suspect the mum that came up with that idea is not a Stepford Alien-Robot, but a spawn of the Devil herself – a good one. Sharing the love and all that. Yep. Genius.

Now, I’ve got a pile of numbers and letters and Grape Monsters right here, so let me organise my Christmas list…

Author

Ari has had work published in Australia, England, Japan and Singapore. She has a delightful toddler, Gabriel, who was born with coffee in his veins. She is currently completing her first novel as part of a PhD project.

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