Parents often take a great deal of pride in their children’s artwork; a creation of their creation. And some are actually good. My best friend’s son mastered shape and form at an unusually young age, oval shaped-stick figures to be marvelled. But this is not the norm.
My youngest son is three. When he was two he made his first picture, a colourful scribble, gifted to his grandmother. The artwork was held in such high-esteem, by artist and recipient alike, that my son need not ever create another picture. This was his Mona Lisa. In fact, any time I suggested he do another drawing he redirected my attention to the artwork’s viewing area; the fridge.
In hindsight, I should have enjoyed this single imperfect picture, framed by the vast open plains of uncluttered fridge space. Now, I would almost say, this picture ‘sparked joy’ in its unique singularity.
At the start of the kinder year, somewhere within the information pack was the sentiment that there is a lot of pre-learning going on and so parents should not expect their children to bring home artwork after every session. Settle guys, give them time to build the foundations.
The thing is though, there are no rejects, no quality assurance. Samples, offcuts, everything is prized, nothing is left behind. Large sheets of paper, thick with paint, bundling up faster than junk mail in a neglected mailbox; this burden is real. And you can’t simply throw them away. It’s like Big Brother in your own home. School, kinder, child care or not – they are always watching.
Though it seems, as enforced by the little people who manage our overwhelming intake of arts and crafts, that it is not for you or I to decide what is art, it is true that some artworks are precious, heart-warming keepsakes that should be rightfully treasured.
Once at school assembly, another parent showed me his child’s artwork captured on his phone. It was with such pride that this father thrust his phone upon me. ‘My son drew me as a penis’ he said, beaming. I looked down. Sure enough, the entire body was one long shaft, two rounded shoes either side, and a line separating the top of the shaft; a knob with a face on it. It was a penis man. This was material that should be shared. And, no doubt, had been, several times over.