When I was a kid I made my mum a personalised paperweight for her desk. It was essentially a stick. I thought that it looked a bit like a snake, so I painted it bright orange and then carefully painted 'mum' in black letters across the snake's belly. I remember being so damn proud of that snake. I couldn't wait to give it to her.
My mum, to her credit, kept the snake paperweight for years (maybe she still has it in a cardboard box somewhere). When I saw it on her desk it made me happy – my mum was the most wonderful person in the world and I'd made her something special.
I always thought I'd be the sort of mum who would treasure all the craft and artwork my kids created, just like my own mum had. My kids would feel that glow of pride when they saw me displaying their creations.
Seven years later I am literally drowning in my kids' art and craft. Okay, not literally drowning, but I'm definitely struggling to cope with the sheer volume of it. I really wanted to be the mum that treasured her kids' work – I just didn't realise there would be so bloody much of it.
Every evening their school bags overflow with lovingly produced art. I tell them I love it (and I do). "Put it on my desk!" I tell them (It doesn't have quite the same ring to it as "it's going straight to the pool room", but the sentiment is the same).
Right now my desk is home to one decorated plant pot, one painted plate, a glitzy picture frame (complete with a scowling self-portrait from the artist), a couple of coasters and an entire family of papier-mache turtles. I have so much kids' craft on my desk I barely have room for my keyboard.
And it just keeps coming. They are so committed to producing it! Every day they bring home at least one craft project from school or after-school-care. Cardboard boxes haphazardly stuck together ("it's a fish tank, Mum!"), gaudy beads threaded on to tiny wires ("it's for you, Mum!"), enough French knitting to circumnavigate the Inner West. I don't want to sound ungrateful, and I'm happy that my children want to shower me in lovingly crafted gifts ... but my house is about to be totally engulfed in cardboard and glitter.
Of course, like most parents I have become quite deft in discreetly chucking out a large chunk of art and craft. I'll display a new piece on the kitchen sideboard for a few days before re-homing it in the recycling bin. And if they catch me in the act I've got my "Oh goodness! How did that get there!" act down pat.
I also use a kids' art app to save photos of my daughters' paintings and sketches. It's not the same as the enormous scrapbooks my mum used to keep, but it's more space efficient.
I want to encourage creativity. It's wonderful that they have so much imagination. I just wish they could turn it down a fraction.
This too shall pass. The phase will end. The papier mache turtles will move out, my desk will be empty and I'll probably be sad. But in the meantime, if I don't show up for the school run, I'll probably be trapped under a life-size cardboard robot. If you don't see me around, please send help.