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Wednesday, August 11, 2021

The Artwork of Children, Today and Tomorrow

Every parent knows the sweet feeling the comes over you when your child offers you a drawing, from the simplest of purple stick-figures to the most elaborate painting or piece of sculpture made of wire, papier-maché and those funky styrofoam puffy guys. The final result has nothing to do with your feelings of pure love, joy and pride in this kid's creativity. You are part of them, they are part of you, and object in question was produced by them, thus it somehow becomes an extension of this lovely spirit.

There is a new tug to the soul that can come when it is time to sort out, to choose, to not keep every single bit of this flow of creative genius. It can be so hard to say good-bye to anything their little hand holding a green crayon or bit of charcoal put down on paper, simply because they made it, and you want to savor every minute of childhood. Even as you look at yesterday's sketches or scribblings, you know they have grown up just a little since last night or last year. We suppose we can hold onto something as fleeting as time and specifically, the time when this child was young. That entire sketchbook filled with blue circles that eventually turned into sunshines or faces or the later one full of the botanical drawings of an eleven-year-old or the manga craze of a twelve-year-old? Must be kept.

I refuse to qualify artwork as anything other than precious, although in the interest of fashioning a good space in which they can feel free to continue to create, some must be archived, some shared with grandparents, aunts, great-uncles, and some sacrificed. I have kept perhaps excessive amounts of kid art over the years, but the alternative is unthinkable. Would you like to know something, friends who are parents of the very young? In most cases, the art peters out and turns itself into sports, music, friends or other pursuits. I am glad I kept a little more than perhaps I should have. 

Practically speaking, I made an "end of studies" scrapbook for each child as they graduated from high school. At least they have something by which to remember this time and they know that it did not all get recycled! They are dear to me and so are the beautiful works of art they have made, on paper and of their lives.

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