Everyday when my son gets off of the school bus, I open his backpack to see if there are any notes from his teacher or anything else inside that should be taken out. Most often there are only left over parts from his lunch or toys that he had taken with him on the bus that morning. But sometimes, there are pieces of artwork that his teacher sent home that were either done that day or taken down after its stint on the classroom walls.
I love getting his artwork.
It’s always something different. Whether it is a dinosaur, a firetruck, or a painting of a pumpkin – it all makes no difference to me. Out of his backpack and straight to the fridge almost every piece goes! So much of his artwork dons our refrigerator that I often times have to send stuff to both grandmas houses so they can fill theirs as well. They love it just the same.
When we visit my parents’ house and I see my son’s artwork on their fridge, I’m reminded of the days when my own artwork hung on the “Look what I did at school today” magnets that my mom still owns. I remember rushing through the door after school and excitedly pulling out a new painting to hang on the fridge. I’d pick out the best magnets before my sister claimed them for her own masterpieces. I’d hang it up and be so proud of the work that I had done and be so happy to have my art front and center in the heart of our house.
It is funny how it’s the little things that take us back in time to our own childhoods – a certain smell, something someone says in passing, or perhaps a song. For me, my son’s artwork reminds me of a time when the biggest problem I had was claiming the good magnets before my sister got to them.
Other times, she and I would sit at the dining room table and draw pictures for our dad. You see, my dad was and still is a health guru. He has a workout room in my parents’ basement and still uses it to this day. The room once housed the bedroom of the teenage girl of the family that built our house before my parents bought it. So my dad decided rather than painting over the strip of flowered wallpaper that went around the room, that he’d hang his kids’ artwork on the walls instead. So, part of our family’s tradition was coloring pictures for dad’s workout room and pieces that had already shined on the main stage of the fridge got a second life downstairs on the walls too.
As we colored each drawing for my dad, I’d take big pride in going downstairs when he was in there working out and knocking on the room of the door while he blasted country music and lifted weights. He’d slowly open the door and I’d hand him my newest creation. He was always grateful and complimentary of whatever we drew and not all of us were artists (me in particular). I’d take tremendous pride as he pulled out two thumbtacks from atop his stereo system and asked me where we should hang it. Once it was up, we’d stand back and look at it. I’d look around the room at the drawings we’d given him over the years – my sister’s “School Safety” winning drawing of a girl crossing the street with her dog, a ripped out page from a dinosaur coloring book my brother colored during his “Jurassic Park” phase, and the traditional shadow silhouette of my profile I’d drawn in the 1st grade.
They were all there. Proudly on display. Mementos from his three children.
Most of the artwork would stay up for years. Long after I stopped doing drawings for the wall, I’d use the workout room for its intended purpose and I’d look around the room and be reminded of days gone by. Times when the world was simpler, easier and when the highlight of my day was knocking on the door of the room I now stood in as an adult. A young girl, excited by the thought of giving her dad something she’d made him for his favorite space.
When I became a mom I decided this was something I’d carry on with my own kids. I don’t have a workout room (the exercise gene skipped me), but the kitchen is the heart of our home now. So, when my son makes me a drawing or writes his name on a scrap piece of paper, it goes on the fridge. Anything he makes is special to me.
Like my dad, if I can make my child’s day by simply hanging up something he made just for me, well then consider it done! I will gladly continue this tradition, and luckily my son didn’t inherit my non-existent artistic abilities. Not that it would matter if he did, his art would still hang proudly on the fridge.