She burst in the front door along with the bitter wind and I immediately, upon looking at her flushed cheeks, wondered where on earth her coat was? Not to mention the hat I sent with her to preschool this morning after looking outside and deciding that yes, today was definitely a "hat" day.
She clasped something shiny in her hands, her freezing cold hands.
It was shiny and covered in tinsel. There was a silver star hanging from it's top and upon further investigation I realized that it was a lower case "t." The tinsel gave it away. Tinsel starts with "t," just like all the other things used to decorate the letters of the alphabet that she brings home from preschool. We have an "f" covered in frogs. There is a "p" somewhere with pumpkins stamped all over it. Once I saw an "m" plastered with macaroni.
Once I got the door closed behind her and determined that yes, she really had worn her coat and hat during outside time at school, I asked her how her day was.
"Mom, it was fine," she told me in a voice too serious for a preschooler.
I told her that her letter "t" was beautiful, that I'd find a very special place to put it. Maybe we'd even hang it on our Christmas tree. It was just that special.
"Okay, but please don't throw it away like you do all the others," she pleaded, her eyes transforming into those of a wounded baby fawn. Oh, bring on the guilt.
"Of course I won't throw it away," I assured her, as I hung my head in shame.
This is my third child. Third children, unlike first children, aren't the first to do anything. They aren't the first to bring home a pint-sized hand print. They aren't the first to bring home a hand-stamped turkey, each tiny finger painted a different color. They aren't the first to make a tissue paper flower either.
I love and cherish each masterpiece any of the kids bring home from school . . . for a while. But then there comes a point when I have no more room on my refrigerator (and if you've seen my refrigerator door, you know that no available space is left vacant for long). My closets are stacked to the ceiling with tote boxes full of artwork. The space underneath my bed is crammed full of those under-the-bed boxes full of, what else? Children's artwork. There are a few prized pieces in frames and a few sent to distant relatives, but the rest?
They get photographed and recycled.
Unless they are extra, extra special.
I'm thinking my new tinsel letter "t" will be forever living in a very coveted spot, that being on the bulletin board in my office. So far no other artwork resides there. It is full of work calendars for the fire department, school information and special photographs.
Katie's letter "t" will be the first piece of artwork put there. I'll tell her how special it is, how nobody's artwork has ever been placed there, and that I'll look at it and think of her each time I work on the computer (or watch last week's episode of Desperate Housewives or funny 80's videos on YouTube). That ought to make up for recycling the letters that came before it, right?
Tell me, what do you do with all of your child's artwork? Do you save every single thing (Oh, don't tell me that - I'll feel even worse!), or do you selectively sort and save? Do you frame special paintings?