There are days, many days in fact, where I, an innocent man trying to enjoy his home, feel instead like the curator of an art gallery of the damned. On chairs, on the table, behind the couch, on the desk: art, art, art. Little drawings of castles that look like turds. Green squiggles that we are made to call “unicorns”. Endless pages of doodles and scribbles and collages, which are what we call pieces of food stuck to construction paper with a quart of Elmers.
It’s not the low quality of this all this production that bothers me–my kid-art, I’m sure, was equally demented. But it’s our inability to throw any of this away. We have not been given permission to throw anything away, a thought that is true and yet also makes me want to break something. We somehow have consented to play a self-defeating role in all this, whereby we praise each new picture as if it were a Tintoretto or Titian, and then, believing us, our children do not allow us to throw these pieces where most of them belong, which is the garbage can.
Instead we are made to tape them up, in hugely conspicuous places, where not only do they need to be looked at all the time, but they also will be immediately noticed if they go missing.
Look, I’m not against child art. Our daughter Dalia is even betraying, through her art, a nascent science mind, with her complex and ultimately mystifying schematics of how apples are made or how the hallways of a castle link together. And it’s no secret to us or our friends that we have little children, and that we treasure them with the myopia that all parents of young children have. A piece of art here or there would be perfectly acceptable. But it’s sheer depressing volume of it all that is troubling us.
And before you say that I should just stack them and put them in a folder, you should know that Dalia’s preschool delighted in sending her home with the most oversized and odd-shaped creations, as if it were some achievement to create very long squiggles instead of very short ones. These things don’t just tuck away. They take over.
If you, dear readers, have tips on either how to 1) convince a child that their art is both very special and belongs in the trash or 2) archive artwork in some non-obtrusive way, it would be quite welcome. Or perhaps we should, in honor of the season and the city, just ban everything except sidewalk chalk.