It surely can't be me who is inundated with truck loads of the crap? And I do mean crap. It might be all very well if you're parenting Picasso (actually, no: Picasso's parents would surely have dismissed his daubings as as inept as everyone else's offspring), but for 99.9% the 'art' our children create makes fresh turds show a genius understanding of colour and form by comparison.
Mr Jamie wasn't too bad when it came to producing artwork. By which I mean his offerings were few and far between. He'd put pen to paper when forced to by nursery, but by and large he showed little to no interest in it. In fact, he pretty much progressed from not drawing at all to starting school and starting to write notes for me instead, which I'm more than happy to keep on the basis they contain large amounts of me-related praise such as 'I love you Mum xxx'. (Or, perhaps more accurately, 'I lov yoo Mum xxx'.)
But Beth. Oh Beth. Good grief. Beth treats drawing as she does pretty much everything in life. Hurls herself at it with wild abandon, produces it at pace, in high volume, and with little or no coordination whatsoever. Consequently my house is inundated with the fucking stuff. I've tried hiding the pens and pencils and limiting paper supplies. Beth is not one to let a little thing like that stop her. She'll quite happy graffiti bank statements, diaries, the floor, the table, the walls, and use anything from my lipliner to a bit of mud she's brought in from outside to do so.
Obviously, five days a week Beth goes to nursery. During which time you'd think I might be safe from the onslaught of the artwork. NO. Beth's nursery, being five star, Ofsted outstanding, misguidedly assumes that parents will want to keep a record of all of their children's creations, and gives it all to you every day to take home. Every. Last. Fucking. Piece. Let me remind you: Beth creates artwork as though working on a factory production line. I am yet to get out of the building with less than ten pieces of paper. In future years she is going to have the destruction of the rainforest entirely on her conscience.
The worst thing about the bloody artwork is what the hell you then do with it. Proper Parents, I know, keep the stuff. EVEN THOUGH IT'S SHIT. They keep it anyway, because they love and adore their children and keeping a record of their developing artistic skills is a sign of that love. IT-savvy Proper Parents at least take the step of getting the stuff out of the house, by taking a photograph of each piece of artwork and lovingly filing it away before getting rid of the actual artwork before it takes over the house.
I am not a Proper Parent, and I do not want a pile of inept scribblings filling my house. In fact, even if I did want it, with Beth's output there's no way I could manage to keep it without having to evict the rest of us to make space for it. So here, to help you all out, are some of the myriad of things I have come up with for doing with your children's artwork, whilst at the same time not traumatising them for the rest of their years. You're welcome.
1) Give it to relatives. Always a good one. They're delighted - or have to pretend to be, the child feels good about themselves, you have it out of your house.
2) Use it as wrapping paper for wrapping presents. Although with Beth's output, I would need to be Father Christmas for this strategy to really work.
3) Put it into the boot of your car. 'To keep it safe, darling.' Until the next trip to the dump...
4) Persuade nursery to keep it. 'But surely you're in need of some more shite - I mean art - for your wall displays...?'
5) Do a stealth walk outside of nursery past the litter bin and dispose of it forthwith. 'I don't know where your pictures went sweetheart? Did nursery give them to me? I don't remember. We'll have to check with them tomorrow...'
6) Drop the artwork outside of nursery and wait for the wind to carry it off. 'Oh no! All your beautiful pictures! What a shame. Never mind. I'm sure you'll do some more...'
7) And finally, my personal favourite, and the tactic used most often in this house. 'Shall we put your pictures into the art gallery? Yes, that's right, you bring them with you. Just out here. Off to the art gallery. What does it look like? Well, it's that big grey container over there with the green lid...'*
If she one day ends up making millions from her art: please feel free to smugly remind me of this blog post. Not as smug as I'll be though, with my millionaire artist daughter. The signs were clearly always there...
*Just in case this was a bit too subtle for any of the slower ones of you out there: I'm talking about the recycling bin. I refer to the recycling bin as the art gallery. Got it? Well done. Now back in your box.