One of the things I would love to say to my 5-year-old daughter and cannot is, “Please, please, please stop drawing so many pictures.”
Georgia’s 2-year-old sister is a bit young for coloring, and her twin brother would rather dribble a basketball than put marker to paper. But Georgia is deeply entrenched in an artistic phase.
I don’t know where she gets this drive. I, myself, am not at all crafty – at least not in the Martha Stewart sense. I hate going to the Michaels stores, “where creativity happens” and where they seem to be missing an apostrophe. I hate inky hands. I hate puffy stickers. I have no more room on my refrigerator or kitchen cabinets for my children’s drawings.
For a while, I feigned enthusiasm and bought brightly colored frames for their paintings. I pierced my family room walls with hooks to hang their masterpieces and gave a few more prominent billing in my daughter’s room. But, apparently, my efforts were insufficient; in the intervening months, Georgia has redoubled hers.
“Mommy, I’m going to draw you a picture,” she says, and I cringe. Georgia keeps depicting me as a garish prom queen, bedecked in flouncy dresses, ornate headpieces and goiter-size bobbles. Gazing at Georgia’s fancified portraits makes me feel disheveled in my ponytail and jeans. Her drawings are not simply delightful examples of her creativity; they are nagging reminders that I am not, at the moment, providing a very decorous image of femininity for my daughters.
Furthermore, I have nowhere to store the myriad artistic productions, and I keep wondering if other parents really save all this crap. For a while, I posted my children’s artwork around the house before stashing it in our guest room. But when I realized that one preschool project had employed some kind of organic paste – and that our resident mice had found it delectable – I quickly abandoned that practice.
Then I had what I thought was a stroke of brilliance and bought several three-ring binders. (This was before Mitt Romney had defiled that concept.) “We’ll punch holes in your pictures and store them in here,” I told my kids, imagining neat rows of folders atop my third-floor bookshelves. But my genius backfired when Georgia made me fill the binders with blank pages for her to color.
Several months ago when everyone was out, I did a major purge. I engorged all three of our outside trash cans with construction paper and poster board. Then, after displaying new projects for a few days at a time, I started furtively slipping them into the kitchen garbage – until I got busted. Georgia tossed out a pear pit after lunch one day, caught sight of crumpled illustration and cried, “Why’d you throw my artwork away? That’s mean!”
I know it is, but I can’t help myself. I simply cannot deal with all this paper – not to mention the worksheets now coming home from kindergarten. I’m even starting to worry about what all this coloring is doing to, or, for that matter, revealing about, Georgia’s mental state.
When I send her to her room for a time-out, she emerges with yellow kites she wants me to hang on her siblings’ doors. Georgia pastels illustrated apology notes to whichever family member she has offended. She even came home the other day from school with an elaborate drawing of our house ablaze, faceless firemen battling the flames.
“What’s this picture about?” I anxiously queried.
“Mommy, I don’t want to talk about it,” she said.
So I let it drop. And I suppose that, as sick of crude artwork as I am, I’m really not as callous as I sound.
“Mommy, you know why I make so many pictures for you?” Georgia asked the other day. “It’s to show you how much I love you.”
Maybe I’ll buy some plastic bins and start stashing the stuff under our beds.