My son created a self-portrait in school yesterday. Here it is:
When he got it out of his backpack and presented it to me, I couldn't believe my eyes.
My son sees Mr. Burns when he looks in the mirror.
With two kids who have been in some sort of organized school since 2004, we've collected a lot of 'artwork'. And I use the word 'artwork' loosely: at 39-years old, and in a 2,200-sf apartment with virtually no closet space, I've reached a point where I can admit that not everything is a keeper.
In preschool, my daughter was coming home with reams and reams of paper ... ahem ... her 'artwork.' Some of these pieces were nothing more than Q-Tips glued onto outdated school letterhead. But I couldn't get rid of them.
A more pragmatic mother looked me square in the eyes at the preschool open house one night and bluntly said, "Not everything is precious, dear."
So, nearly 8 years later I'm much more discriminating about what we keep and what goes straight from the backpack into the trash can.
And this self-portrait is a keeper. It ranks right up there with the drawing the little guy made on his second day of kindergarten (maybe it was first grade, I can't be sure) of me, in a car, getting struck by lightning.
Now, that's precious.
Daughter has created some really neat pieces of art. But her moneymaker is her journals. At the end of first grade, she came home with all of her spiral notebook journals. The journaling was a year-long process of teaching 7-year olds how to tell a story and ultimately, how to edit their own work.
Reading her journals was nightmarish. Not because she was a bad writer. She's a great writer. But she wasn't telling stories: she was documenting every single thing that went on in our house.
Dear Journal, This weekend we went to a bar to watch a soccer game. We had margaritas. My mom spilled her margarita on me....
We can be damn lucky those journals didn't prompt a visit from Child Protective Services that year.
Everyone in this house (except me) is into ice skating, so I've started repurposing those amazing ice skate boxes (they're over-sized and have a plastic handle) to save all the 'keepers.' I can't wait to look through all those boxes with the kids in a few years and see how they once saw the world.
A few years ago, my aunt sent me a bunch of my artwork she had hung onto: I could actually still remember (30 years later!) the chair, the room, the house I was in when I made those different pieces. I could remember the crazy smelly markers from Mentz & Grugen's Stationery that I used at the card table in Gram's living room, my precious Crayola art caddy when I'd visit my Dad on the weekends at the house on 8th Street, the Mr. Sketch Markers at Aunt Jenny's place in Quakertown. Oh! How earnestly I worked on my creations!
I've been looking at Mr. Burns all day. My God, he makes me smile.