Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Bags Of Fun

That’s it – the third child has finally finished school for the summer. At last we can sit around in our pyjamas all day and watch junk television – which is exactly what I used to do myself at a similar age.
I have spent the last week studiously avoiding eye contact with other mothers in order to sidestep plans to meet up for educational days out or healthy picnics. Unfortunately, my daughter has accused me of stunting her social growth by refusing to plunge headlong into the morass of scheduled events and activities. She hasn’t yet discovered the boundless joys of being unsociable, which is surprising when you consider that she lives with such a great role model.
Each of my kids has come home from school on their final day laden down with at least three carrier bags. These have all been dumped unceremoniously in the corner of the kitchen. It looks as if I have had a supermarket home delivery, but instead of the usual bottles of wine and packets of frozen chips, the bulging carrier bags contain every single piece of work they have done across the school year.
What is the point of all this? Do schools think that parents need hard evidence that their children have been doing something other than picking their noses all year? Are they just pandering to the parental obsession of needing to know everything our children are doing, even when they manage to escape the full glare of our interest for a few hours a day at school?
When I was at junior school, the only thing we brought home on the final day of the school year was a pair of cheesy-smelling plimsolls which had been used for ‘music and movement.’ I vaguely remember that we did those lessons in our underwear, which seems astounding now and makes me feel ancient. I suppose it added another weapon to the armoury of the sadistic PE staff, enabling them to humiliate the weedier children even more effectively.
Anyway, the bags are piled up in the corner, and I’m not sure what to do with them. I really can’t face looking through reams of spelling tests and times table worksheets, or making appreciative noises at A3 sized pieces of artwork which drop chunks of bright red powder paint all over my dressing gown. I know for certain that I don’t want to look in the ‘My Busy Bee News’ book, which is well-known for exposing my intemperance, rather like a tabloid newspaper. Now I know what it must feel like to be a D-list celebrity whose agent has advised her against reading the gutter press. After all, there isn’t much point trying to sue an eight year old for libel.
Other parents tell me that they select a couple of pieces of artwork to keep, and a nicely written story or two. But that is going to involve sifting through the entire contents of each bag, not to mention lighting the blue touch paper of sibling rivalry.
Time to pause and enjoy a glass of Wither Hills Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand (Sainsburys £8.99). This grassy, gooseberry–and-lime tasting wine is really intense, and offers everything you could ever want from a Sauvignon Blanc. Including inspiration.
I have decided to simply pour myself another glass, and revert to my default mode of ‘do nothing.’ That way, the carrier bags will become just another slag-heap in the industrial landscape of my kitchen. They can blend in with the assorted clutter until they cease to exist in their own right.
I have no doubt that the day my son asks me to retrieve the brightly coloured caterpillar with fifty pipe cleaner legs will be the day after I have finally shovelled the lot into a black bin liner.


expatmum said...

I think you're supposed to put each child's work into seperately labelled two ring binders protected by those plastic covers. Or you can do what I do - shove the best-looking bits into a giant Tupperware container that I will some day just hand over to the kids anyway.
My new plan is to keep the work of the oldest, and give it to the next one down when he gets to the same part of the syllabus. Saves me having to explain it all over again.

The Good Woman said...

Step one: sift through and choose those items with the most potential for blackmail in later years.
Step Two: wait until the end of the summer (when darkness falls a little earlier and the kids are bored to tears) and stage a huge bonifre with the rest. May I suggest Gluhwein as the perfect accompaniment? said...

Drunk Mummy, I would advise a two-fold solution to this problem: Ask them to choose their three favourite pieces to display somewhere in the house. Then have just one educational lesson on recycling and throw them in the recycling bin so they have paper for next year - otherwise the school will run out. Failing that you could, like me, accidently lose them one night when its very dark and the kids are asleep. There are only so many pictures a kitchen noticeboard can take.

mutterings and meanderings said...

Put em in the loft so they can be retieved at a later date.

Stay at home dad said...

With all this nose-picking going on the potential for modern organic art is tremendous.

I'm thinking plastic bags in the utility room isn't going to work forever.

DJ Kirkby said...

we have been informed that at number 3 son's primary school they still do PE in their pants, sigh, I wish them luck with that 'cos no way will he stand in his pants in front of his classmates... Number 2 son still in school, yay. Number 3 was out ages ago and well into sitting round in PJ's sigh.

rilly super said...

Just sell it all the M&M drunkmummy, she'll buy any old stuff if you read her latest entry, just tell her it's 'vintage'...

Peter May - The Pinotage Club said...

Wither Hills SB is excellent and good value. As you like that, may I suggest 'The Ned' Sauvignon Blanc.

This is the private venture of Brent Marris (ex owner/winemaker of Wither Hills) - you'll see his signature on the Wither Hills label but he's now severed his connection with the company.

Waitrose has the black labelled 'Ned' which is a single vineyard (Waihopai Vineyard) at £9.99 which is incredible. When it was on offer at 6.99 people were carrying cases of it out the stores.

There is also a less expensive white labelled Ned made from bought in grapes but I've not tried that.

lady macleod said... could have them each pick out the three pieces they like best and post those. Depending on the child whether to chuck the rest, mine got a bit huffy at my organizational skills when she turned 14.

Doing nothing is an acquired skill. If they don't start practicing now they will never get it right.

debio said...

So pleased you wrote this, drunk mummy. I now have a whole raft of suggestions to solve a problem I haven't even complained about in blogworld....

Next problem; how many different ways can you answer the question, 'I'm bored'?

Elsie Button said...

i was so so upset when i found out my mum had thrown ALL my school work away. she made a big bonfire with it all when she was a little drunk one evening - included on this bonfire was a signed copy of terry wogan's autobiography that i had lovingly bought and got signed for her one christmas. i felt very rejected. poor me, and poor terry.

Omega Mum said...

Very funny yet again. I think a bonfire is about right. Otherwise the children rediscover the bags halfway through the holidays and the house is full of drifts of A4 paper. Still, I suppose they could all play tramps, in that case.

beta mum said...

They never want to throw away a single half-completed drawing of nothing.
Best to get rid of it yourself - just pick the first one of each folder you come to and put it under their beds. They'll find it when they start hiding things there, and think it a sweet reminder of their childhood.
Mine have got another week and 2 days at school...

Rebecca said...

hee hee - I get the unsociability thing - a stupid picnic or other social event means you have to wash and dress. So irritating.

And the stupid bits of paper thing? My youngest sons kindy sends home EVERYTHING he does.

Wipes poo on paper? send it home to mum.
Chews a bit of play-doh, sticks it up his nose and spits it inot a blob of crap? send it home to mum.

Why on earth would I want more mess at home?? I have enough of this 'creative expression' paraphernalia already. It's mad.

Drunk Mummy said...

expat mum - eek! The ring binders sound scary. I much prefer the Tupperware solution.
I like your re-cycling of the syllabus too!

good woman - do you know, I had completely missed the 'blackmail' angle. That in itself is worth sifting through it all!
I will start ordering in the Gluhwein for Step Two.

ingenious rose - absolutely! My fridge is the same. It is so weighed down by artwork and fridge magnets that it is gradually sinking into the kitchen floor.

M&M - that is what I have done in the past. If our house set on fire, the loft would burn for a week.

SAHD - you have a point there - maybe I was wrong and nose picking IS all they have done all year.

dj kirkby - I agree with your son - there's something really pre-war about doing PE in your underwear! Also, not everyone wears the required knitted vest these days.

rilly - either that or hike it all round to the White Cube Gallery, and flog it as a Very Young British Artists collection.

Peter - thanks for that, I'll follow it up. 'Ned' is nothing if not memorable!

lady macleod - yes, doing nothing is a seriously under-rated skill!

debio - yes, if mine complain about being bored, I shall get them to sift through the carrier bags on my behalf!

elsie - I am afraid I'm with your mum on this one. Terry's autobiography received the ending it deserved!

omega mum - what a flash of inspiration! Playing tramps offers a perfect low-cost game with that all-important touch of social awareness, don't you think?

beta mum - yes I suspect the hoarding gene is strong until they have their own kids, when they are suddenly seized with the desire to throw everything away.

rebecca - glad you agree, and you put it better than I did!
It seems there is nothing in the 'creative output' of our chiildren that is not deemed worthy of our total appreciation.