Tuesday 20 August 2019

Liz Kearney: 'Rainbow or T. Rex - which should I keep?'


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Liz Kearney

Liz Kearney

The five-year-old is nearing the end of term and over the past few weeks he's been busy ferrying home in his backpack all the art and school work he's completed since he first started way back in September.

Sifting through the sheaf of papers, carefully stored in special protective folders, is a little like taking a sneak peek through the classroom window into the colourful world of junior infants, a world populated by dinosaurs and insects and rainbows and an array of other indeterminate images.

Is that a drawing of his little brother, or is it a tree? Not quite sure.

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Anyway, we now have what amounts to an impressive documentary archive of his first year at primary school; charting his first tentative, heart-melting steps in drawing and writing.

It's lovely and the only question now is what on earth to do with it all. Yes, his early artistic efforts are very cute. But no, I don't have space for endless piles of paper pockmarked with crayon squiggles.

How to choose what to bin and what to keep?

I'm bad at paperwork at the best of times, but this is a whole other level. And so the pile of papers on the kitchen island has grown gradually larger over the past few weeks, to the point where it has now entirely engulfed the fruit bowl and threatens to completely obscure the stove top.

After a near-conflagration while stir-frying the other evening, I decided it was time to take decisive action.

So I took the liberty of selecting a few of the, shall we say, less impressive creations and popped them into the recycling bin when I thought my son wasn't looking.

It took him less than 10 minutes to locate them there, now crumpled up in a ball, and embark on an inevitable high decibel meltdown.

"WHY DID YOU PUT MY LOVELY PICTURES IN THE BIN, MUMMY?" he wailed, as if I had canned the Mona Lisa. "YOU RUINED THEM!"

There was no way to adequately explain to him that unless I employ a full-time archivist at the family home I'll be unable to keep track of the volume of paperwork he's produced.

So instead I agreed with him that yes it was a mistake and yes, I was very mean, and no, I would never, ever throw anything else in the bin. Ever.

Lesson learned, next day I waited until he was sound asleep and then, under cover of darkness, I snuck out to the recycling bin in the garden, wodge of papers in hand.

First thing next morning he wanted to know what I'd done with the picture he'd drawn of the T. Rex which he'd left on the table...

He doesn't, as they say, lick all of this off the floor.

I myself am guilty of being incapable of throwing out birthday cards, both the children's and my own, to the extent that I have several shoeboxes full of ancient cards dating back to the year I turned five.

Every time I think I'll throw some of them out, I find myself sitting on the bedroom floor, re-reading the little messages, drinking in the handwriting, that physical proof of love of which I will never tire.

Ultimately my son's right, I've decided. Let's not throw any of this stuff out.

So I've cleared out the shelves in the study and prepared myself for a lifetime of filing activity the KGB would have been proud of. And this is only Junior Infants.

By the time we're in secondary school, we'll probably need to build a dedicated extension.

So much for going paperless, right?

Irish Independent

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