“You can find magic
wherever you look.
Sit back and relax,
all you need is a book.” ― Dr. Seuss
Last week when I sat down to work on my scheduled “15 minutes of decluttering”, I wasn’t looking forward to cleaning out two stacked Crate and Barrel baskets that were full of artwork, cards and reminders of my sons from preschool.
I had already sorted through these baskets before, just enough so that they weren’t stuffed to the brim, and just enough so the lids would close.
Opening the first basket, I was immediately thrown back in time, a time when my kids were learning how to write their names, write numbers and created pieces of “art” with stickers, felt pens, crayons, and paint. Many of the pieces, thick with tempera paint, were stuck together after being folded for so many years.
I smiled as I looked through baskets. I had saved every scrap of paper, treating it like art, when, most of it was just pieces of paper with scribbles, circles, and lines going in a variety of directions. I threw most of these into a brown paper grocery bag to recycle.
I threw away the preschool newsletters and parent letters. I tossed reminders of picture day and career day. I found some math quizzes and spelling tests from kindergarten and 1st grade and put those into the now-full grocery bag.
Those 15 minutes ended up being an hour.
I sat down on the floor, a cup of coffee in hand, and surveyed the things that didn’t go into the recycling bag: birthday cards, and special drawings that had their handwriting or ideas – “When I grow up, I want to be a baseball player” and, my favorite “I love my Mommy because…she is a volcano” with a carefully drawn picture of me as a volcano.
I gathered all the artwork I wanted to keep and set them aside.
A few years ago, I took a bunch of my older son’s artwork, put it in a box and sent it off to be made into a book. I gave the book to him for his birthday. He got a kick out of seeing what he had created: laughing at some pieces; and marveling at the pieces he remembered making in 2nd and 3rd grade.
The book is in his room on a shelf with the rest of his books. He’s probably opened the book a handful of times since receiving it. In all these years, he’s never asked me where the original artwork is.
Knowing this, I can continue to clean out their school work and keep the meaningful pieces to create additional books for my boys before permanently throwing it all away.
There was a time I would have felt guilty about tossing the kid’s art as if I was throwing away a part of their lives. I know that my boys if asked, would not want to take any of their schoolwork with them when they left for college nor would they want to take it with them from one place to the next in adulthood. Knowing this, it is easier to let their art go.
The artwork and the scraps and bits of paper no longer reside in my home, but the hands that created those pieces still do. I’d rather hold on to, and celebrate my two artists; they are my true masterpieces.