The one about the art

Just what am I supposed to do with all this crap?

Please forgive me for posing the question quite so bluntly but I think you know exactly what I mean.

Don’t get me wrong, I love it when my wee man brings home his art and craft creations. I’d sooner hold one of his illegible scrawls in my hand than gaze upon the bloody majesty of Carravaggio’s Beheading of St John the Baptist any day. (Really?)

It’s just that, well, there’s just so damn much of it.

Between nursery school and daycare he seems to be working on a steady production line of colouring, drawing, building, painting, pasting and sticking.

Some days when I pick him up I need a sack to transport the weight of paper and cardboard back to my house. It never seems to end. Every day. ‘Look at what I made today daddy’.

And to be even more blunt, and at the risk of sounding like a terribly unsympathetic daddy, it’s all tat.

The truth is all kids can’t be good at all things. My son shows great aptitude for stories and words and his imagination is remarkable (wonder where he got that from?).

He’s frankly less interested in drawing and making things. That’s fine, I was exactly the same as a kid.

And it could just be something that develops later for him. His true artistic talents may simply be disguised.

Although if they are, I have to say, it’s a flipping good disguise.

The tricky moment is when he shows you a picture and you have to try and guess what it is.

‘Ah, that’s brilliant son. Is this me and is that you? Are we going for a walk? What? No? Ah, it’s one of your poos going down the toilet. Yes, I see that now.’

So here’s the conundrum. My house is coming down with all this stuff. I know I’m given to hyperbole but there will come a point soon when I may have to build an extension just to store all the art.

So should I throw them out? Well that would be logical but each time I try to do it I feel like I’m in that scene at the end of The Omen when Gregory Peck has the child Damian on the church altar holding a dagger aloft.

He tries to steel himself for what he knows he must do but the little pleading voice stops him. ‘Please daddy, don’t do it.’

Somehow throwing them away feels like amputating part of my own body. Like Niall of the Nine Hostages as he sailed for Ulster and hurled his bloody red hand.

So there we are. How to square this circle?

I was discussing this very point on Facebook recently when an old school friend, now a mother, told me what she did. She has created a computer database which has all the art her child has created recorded for easy access and virtual storage.

That’s brilliant, I thought. Like all the best ideas, so simple and obvious.

If you’re an organised person.

The truth is I’m the kind of guy who takes six months to get round to replacing a blown lightbulb. The database is a lovely idea and something to aspire towards, but much like financial stability, I know it’ll never happen.

There must be some deep psychological reason why we, as parents, are afraid to let go of these things. Why we keep the drawings, the first tooth, the lock of hair.

Yes, it’s lovely to have as a record but it must be more than that, some innate desire to slow the clock down. To hold onto these moments like a man overboard desperately grasping at a rope.

I’m off to pick up my son now. To enjoy time with him and to take possession of his latest masterpieces.

There isn’t any more room left on the front of the fridge. There just isn’t. New drawings are now covering old ones like layers of wallpaper over the years.

I think I’m going to have to call the builders.

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