"They are not all Picassos. They are not all Picassos," I keep telling myself as I wade through the ever-amassing stack of original artwork taking over the living room. I am trying to sort out which of my 9-year-old daughter's "masterpieces" I should keep from those that will need to be tossed (or at least find themselves on permanent loan to Grandma's "gallery"). I'd been keeping the beast at bay for months, but on the last day of school enough stuff came home in her backpack to fill the entire first floor of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. Add that to a prolific stint at a Monroe Street Fine Arts Center drawing class last week, and I think we've got a genuine fire hazard on our hands.
I've already switched up some of my travel routes around town to avoid the Art Cart. My daughter loves the free outdoor program, but I can't bear to bring another "project" into the house. And we're heading out to Art Fair on the Square this weekend. I don't doubt for a second that with all the cool-sounding activities in the kids' area we'll be coming home with yet another full-on exhibit for her personal collection.
Trust me, if the Disney Channel ever wants to do a kids spin-off of Hoarders, do I have a place for them to start.
There are only two options -- carefully curate (my euphemism for toss), or build an east wing. But construction is expensive, and let's face it, they are not all Picassos. I need to find the strength to separate the wheat from the chaff (sometimes quite literally with some of the mixed-media pieces she's created).
I've really struggled to find the best approach. I can try to do something chronological, perhaps saving one representative piece from each year since she's been able to wield a crayon. This method appeals to my chronically organized side. Or I can ask my daughter to help me decide what is her best work, giving her a chance to develop a critical eye. Her involvement would hopefully let me off the hook for not realizing that those tissue paper flowers stuffed into a juice box container were her "very favorite creation off all time." I've been down that road before. I would prefer not to return.
As much as my daughter hates to part with anything, I need to take this opportunity to teach her that quantity is not necessarily quality. I can tell her the story of Dutch Master Johannes Vermeer, famed for having produced relatively few works.
I won't let on that I'm pretty sure I know the truth. His mother threw out the "Girl with Two Pearl Earrings." There just wasn't room in the house.
I must remind my self that there are lots of things from her childhood I haven't saved. I haven't kept every tooth or lock of hair. I need to move away from seeing each thing she produces as a part of her, because it isn't. Sometimes it's just four pieces of yarn stuck on a sheet of construction paper with Elmer's glue.
But as I take the first bag of "not-quite-Picassos" out to the garage, I am reminded of a quote from the cubist master.
"It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child."
Needless to say, the bag hasn't quite made it into the recycling yet.
How do you approach your kids' art achieves? Do you try to save as much as possible? Or have you figured out a way to surreptitiously say good-bye to some of the excess?comments powered by Disqus
Is it just me or does each summer seem to go by quicker than the last? The end of summer is upon us and for many families this means the start of a new school year.
This past week, on the way to the grocery store, my daughter asked what I believed she thought would be a innocuous question, "Mom, when are we going back-to-school shopping?"
Volunteering with the Young Writers Summer Camp this past week really helped me to remember how utterly creative kids can be when encouraged to come up with their own ideas and use their own words.
This past week I gleefully accepted an offer for new job on the UW-Madison campus. My kids are getting are older and I guess I've felt for a while now that it was time to figure out what would be next for me on the professional front.
"Kids spend so much time in and around school, it's the only place where some have a chance to develop an appreciation for a healthy lifestyle," says Katie Hensel, founder and executive director of Tri 4 Schools.
"I'm envious, mom," said my twelve-year-old daughter as she hopped in the car after theater camp last week. "All the other kids in my group seem to really like, and to be really good at, singing, dancing and acting. But I think all those things are just okay."
"People are looking to book space here all the time," says Remy Fernández-O'Brien, communications and facilities coordinator for the Lussier Community Education Center, a private, nonprofit community center on Madison's west side. "They want to throw their child's first birthday party here or hold a Girl Scout meeting. We're really busy year-round, but it's especially lively here in the summer."
Last week, in response to the county-wide Sleep Safe, Sleep Well public health campaign that encourages parents to "share the room, not the bed" with their sleeping infants, Isthmus contributor Ruth Conniff penned a lovely opinion piece in defense of bed sharing entitled "Confessions of a Co-Sleeper."
As much as I'd like to believe there is latent genius in my daughter's early finger paintings, I'm pretty sure her works are not distinguishable from those created by the pointer fingers and pinkies of thousands of other children from across the world.
Seeing Romeo and Juliet this past weekend was a definite reminder that I need to prepare for something that might resemble a (Near) West Side Story around our place pretty soon.
All during childhood, we calmly tell our kids they don't need to be afraid of the dark, thunder or the monster under the bed. But it's pretty hard to keep your parental cool when your kid is about to embark on the one thing that terrifies you. I knew the problem wasn't really with him. It was with me.
Last January, when temperatures dipped below minus 30 and most people between the ages of 16 and 24 did anything to stay inside, a small yet sturdy group of at-risk teenage boys and young men stacked wood and managed controlled burns at Festge County Park near Cross Plains. Five months later, following a temperature swing of more than 100 degrees, Isthmus found some of those same guys removing invasive honeysuckle and buckthorn at Lake View Hill County Park on Madison's north side.
The first week of summer break at our place usually comes and goes without incident. At times, one could argue, it even verges on pleasant. I have no school lunches to pack and the kids have no 7 a.m. buses to catch.
Have you tried getting anywhere on either Verona Road or East Johnson lately? I'm pretty sure a six-month old could crawl to Fitchburg, or across the isthmus, in less time that it takes me to drive there these days.
As soon as the door closed behind him, I poured myself a cup of the coffee he had made and took a moment to let the enormity of what just happened sink in. My son was ready that morning despite my inability to properly set an alarm clock. My kid was ready that morning without nudging, cajoling, or reminding. He was ready, even when I wasn't.
For the past 17 years or so (i.e., since I've had kids), I haven't made books the priority in my life I know they should be. It's not that I don't try. Just this past weekend I had the best of intentions of picking up, and even finishing, I am Malala, this year's UW-Madison's Go Big Read pick. But the copy still sits untouched on my nightstand.
The longest day of the year is upon us. For those of you keeping track, the sun will rise at 5:18 a.m. and set at 8:41 p.m. on Saturday, June 21. All that daylight, courtesy of the annual summer solstice, will provide the perfect backdrop for Make Music Madison, a daylong event featuring hours and hours of free performances in nearly every corner of the city.
Last week, for the first time, I made my way up to one of the open gallery nights during Madison West's Fine Arts Week, the school's annual showcase for all things creative. The scope of the event is huge, with nearly 1,600 students participating, and the quality of the presented works is phenomenal. It's almost as if the school had been lifted off its perch on Regent Street and traveled back in time to Belle Époque Paris.
If you have aspiring authors in your house, this summer offers a fabulous opportunity for them refine their writing skills. For its second summer, the Greater Madison Writing Project, in partnership with Olbrich Botanical Gardens, is sponsoring two week-long camps in August for young writers entering grades 3-8.
There are lots of benefits to living in a college town. First and foremost, there is always something going on -- a lecture, a film series. Maybe even a protest, if you're lucky. And since becoming a Madisonian, I, for the first time in my life, find myself interested in college football.