Another of my columns from the Irish Examiner’s Feelgood. If you’ve ever drowned in the volume of ‘art’ your children bring home from school you might enjoy this one.
I have a confession to make; I did not keep all my children’s art!
Over the years my four children have brought home half a forest of trees which did not make the cut. I despaired, usually on a Friday, as two or three of them appeared with a poster, paper plate or egg carton duly decorated and painted.
Not being particularly arty myself it was quite the challenge when asked to guess what it was, although having to guess should be a clue as to how abstract the creation might look.
‘Wow, that’s a really good picture of the Eiffel Tower,’ I said to my son one day, more than surprised my six-year-old chose such an iconic monument to paint, and a little hopeful I’d produced at least one with an eye for art.
‘It’s a spaceship,’ he replied, running off to play.
As if admitting I didn’t keep their art isn’t bad enough, I have a second shocking revelation to make… not only did I not keep their art, I lied to them as to where it was.
After an initial short period, during which their masterpieces were proudly displayed in the kitchen, they were removed and placed in a ‘holding cupboard.’ Here they would stay for a week until another truckload of art arrived home, thus signalling the time to bin it. Inevitably I’d be asked,
“Where’s my picture gone?”
“Your Dad loved it so much,” I’d lie, “that he took it to hang up in his office.”
Of course, not every piece of art was cruelly rejected. Any containing the words ‘I love you,’ were kept, as were pottery hand prints, most of which have no names on the back so I cannot be absolutely sure which little one they belonged to. Each piece that made the cut is jammed into a cupboard in the kitchen which you open at your own risk!
Occasionally I do risk it and spend a few moments lost in time, remembering the little hands that made each one. Although I do admit there are some which I question as to how they made the cut.
However, away from our cupboard of outstanding works of art, is a true memory trove. Piled high in a bedroom drawer my favourite memories of their childhood lie.
You’d struggle to open this chock-full drawer. Decades of handmade cards proudly produced on birthday’s and Mother’s Day are stored here, among tiny notes of love found on my pillow, or apologies for being ‘bold.’ Old copies containing their news for the day take up valuable space, the spelling of each word a delight in itself.
However, my favourite of all are the notes with ‘I HATE YOU’ scrawled upon them in large black ink and the name of the sibling of choice below, accompanied by worrying depictions of death or murder.
Unlike my fleeting interest in the art cupboard, opening this drawer can lead to the loss of hours of my day. Some of those notes stored I’ve no recollection of, but others flood my memory with moments and days long since passed.
Looking back, I wonder why I’d kept so many bulky works of art and so few notes and cards? What wonderful moments have I lost along the way?
It was then it struck me, yes my gang are almost grown up but they are still at home with us. Perhaps it is time to start keeping the latest notes? Will there come a day when they too will make me smile and wish for this time back again?
“Mum will you put on a black wash please?”
“Can you get Tuc and green apples at shopping today?’
Or what about text messages?
“I’ve no key.”
“It’s raining, can you collect me?”