Busting at the Seams

Thursday, May 29, 2008

With three young children, I am privileged to have creative little machines who like nothing better than to churn out art project after art project. Painted pots for Mother's Day. Clay figurines. Painted birdhouses. Scribbles. Paintings. Little snippets of paper stapled together. I appreciate the beauty of each of these items and know I'm lucky to have these wonderful children making me these projects. The problem I have is managing these items. Each child has a memory box in the basement which contains some special items like their sheets from their first day at daycare, coin collections, valentine's, birthday cards, a sweater or shoe or special outfit each, and lots and lots of art. My 4-year-olds box is overflowing already!

I could literally fill a recycle bin every month with the art. And I do. I have a secret. When the kids aren't looking, I put things in the recycle bin and save the occasional art piece. I write their name and the date on the back and maybe even explain what's on the front. Mr. Boy will find his work in the recycling and will be insulted. He'll demand that I take his prized art work out immediately. Very rarely, one of the children will ask for a certain project they were working on but which wasn't quite done. Then I'll unapologetically fish it out of the recycle bin and return it to them.

Once in a while I feel bad about doing this, but mostly I just try to figure out ways to prevent the children from noticing that their art is going out to the curb. I might cover the recycle bin with an old cereal box to hide its contents. Or wait until they're off to school before putting out the recycle bin. Either way, it is imperative that they not notice it leaving because they'll want it all back. The same thing happens when I put out boxes for the local charity to pick up. The older two will inevitably claim that something in the box is their 'favourite'. Heaven forbid I put something in there that they gave me!

In my defence, I will be drowning in possessions if I kept everything I was ever given. We have too much stuff in my house already. I could probably buy nothing for the next year and I would still have too much stuff. Sometimes managing my stuff takes up half my day. It's wasteful, not environmentally friendly, and stressful. I need to work on this and figure out a way to live more simply.


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