June 14, 2011

Trash or Treasure? Judge Your Children Now, Before it's Too Late.

(This post first appeared in a blog I forgot I had, in October of 2010. I'm too lazy to keep writing new things, so I'll start posting old hackneyed posts for a while. Okay? Okay.)
Over the last something-something years I have collected, under duress, the largest pile of children’s artwork in the tri-county region. It is given to me with pride as homework, for Mother’s Day, my birthday, from art class, and just because. I, like so many of my fellow mothers, do my duty and hang it on my refrigerator for an undisclosed period of time, and when the timing feels right I remove it and then…

Yes. It’s the “and then” that kills us. Toss? Keep? Under the nurturing roofs of our homes we coddle the budding artists, but here the gloves are off. Send me your child’s art and I’ll be judge and jury and tell you whether you’ve got treasure or trash on your hands. (And by the way - stainless steel finish appliances do not magnetize. Glorious!)

Judge & Jury Entrant #1: Markers on Puce Construction Paper

Let's not quibble; this isn't puce, it's Baby Shit Orange, the color that all construction paper eventually turns after years of storage in a forgotten kindergarten cabinet. At first glance it looks like a haphazard scribble, but on closer inspection it appears that an initial attempt at drawing a person (lower right corner, blue ink) with the word "poo" over him, was thwarted and then covered in pretty rainbow colors, perhaps at the encouragement of an art teacher not skilled in child therapy or swears. This piece is extra special (apparently) because it is laminated. LAMINATED. Which may lead the parents to believe that this is as good as it's going to get for this kid.  TRASH. (unless the next dozen artworks also contain the word "poo" in which case you have a "poo period" = TREASURE.)

Judge & Jury Entrant #2: Pencil Big Heads With Stitches on Paper

This entry is quite complex. While it could be interpreted in so many meaningful ways (two people after a horrible car accident, only one survivor; lollipop people down on their luck), I choose to see a portrait of a blended family. Clearly the brother on the left is from "scary skeleton world" while brother on the right hails from "happy balloon land." They have grown up together in a blended family and have metaphorically survived identical emotional wounds and poor eating habits, which has only brought them closer. This is truly a beautiful portrait of a loving sibling relationship. *Sniff* However, it is a cruel reminder that one or both boys came from a broken or breaking home, and you know what they say - Lose the reminders and put on your blinders! So...TRASH.

Judge & Jury Entrant #3: Red Ink Space-Clown-Robot on Paper

You know, I thought this was a Space-Clown-Robot at first, too, until I noticed the tell-tale tufts of hair on the sides of the subject's head, indicative of male pattern baldness. Add this to the perceived clown hat, which we realize with horror is actually a middle-aged comb-over gone mohawk, and suddenly it's all laid out before us. The Space-Clown-Robot has morphed into a turkey (I know, it's creepy, but it just does). This seemingly playful drawing is a cry for help after Uncle You-Know-Who acted out at Thanksgiving dinner last year. As art this might be TRASH, but as evidence in your restraining order against Uncle Turkey, it's definitely TREASURE.

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