December 16, 2018

The Case for Throwing Away Your Kid's Drawings

“Children make art constantly. From the earliest age, adults press crayons into their hands. Art offers kids something to do, and folk wisdom holds that it’s good for them, too. But after the activity is over, the artwork sticks around. And that’s where the problems start.

My young children leave their art everywhere. I find most of it on the floor. It gets ripped, crumpled, or marked up with footprints. I confront it mostly when bending over to pick it up. Often, I encounter a drift of several layers of drawings, spilling off glitter and painted rice. Others tumble off the refrigerator.

After a few years, I had a crisis over what to do with it all. I hadn’t yet started the carefully curated collection that I remember my own mother making for me. And in truth, it’s difficult to choose which pieces to keep. “Oh, but we have to keep this one,” I think, every single time. And if this one, why not another?

Eventually, I started throwing it all away. Perhaps I am a monster. But the relief involved leads me to believe I’m on to something. What parents do with children’s art depends on what they think about the nature of childhood, nostalgia, and beauty.”

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