Wednesday, August 06, 2008
I've had people tell me that I'm crazy, but I try to make a habit of saving each of my kids' doodles, drawings, and school 'projects' until I have a chance to ask them if they're ready to part with it. Believe me, space is at a premium in our apartment, so I don't intend to keep their stuff forever.
Every so often, we review everything and determine whether it is still something special to keep or if we are ready to say goodbye to it. In this age of digital photos, we also take some time to photograph some of the ones we want to remember. Thankfully, my kids are yielding enough to be able to handle this ritual rather well.
In general, I tend not to be overly kid-centric about everything. That is, our kids' interests sort of flow out of our own. They are busy going about my day along with me (or maybe just too young to want to differentiate themselves all that much). Although we focus on their needs a great deal, I wouldn't say we're the type of family where the kids run the show. But this is one of the areas where I put their desire to hold on to their stuff ahead of my own desire to toss it.
I think that it goes back to my own childhood. I've written before about how my mother is neat in the extreme. Museum-level-house neat. Nevertheless, she did allow us free reign over our stuff. Piles of papers lay stacked on a chair or dresser until I had a chance to sort them out. I had shelves and cabinets filled with shoe boxes of treasures and scraps of things from school, from friends, from around.
I realize that it is impossible to save every piece of art or every little memory for my kids. But to throw it out behind their backs would feel like a betrayal. I know of people who routinely purge their children's collections or even sell or give away toys that are still being played with in the name of organizing.
To me, home to a child is where they can feel sure of the fact that what is theirs will be there for them when they wake up and when they come home. Those little treasures do mean a lot to them at this age, and if those can disappear with no prior warning, then the sense of control and order they feel is made all that much more precarious.