At the end of each academic year, my children would bring home plastic bags full of all the ‘work’ they had done at school that year….There would be piles of books and paper that each one of them would bring home. I would look at it in amazement and a small degree of dismay (for where after all was i going to store all this year after year?). Like most indulgent mothers, i wanted to keep every single thing they had worked on at school FOREVER !!! It was relatively easy when it was just my first-born who was at primary school. But when his younger sisters joined him in the school campus, and also began bringing home their ‘work’ at the end of the year, i began running out of storage space. How on earth was i going to manage to store all these pieces of paper which i wanted to cherish forever and a day?
I was beginning to despair and nearly considered building a separate garage just as a storehouse for all the school work….There were little scraps of paper with funny faces drawn, then there were the maths books with 2+4=7, with a polite line drawn through the answer and replaced with ‘6’ by a patient teacher, there were books with handwriting practice…the As Bs Cs written repeatedly till they got it right….and loads of other books with their scribbles. And of course i wanted to keep it all…..
My wardrobe shelves were groaning under the weight of all these ‘school memories’…surely they would want to see it all when they grew up?…all these papers and books would be a wonderful collage of their childhood…..but as one year melted into the next, the wardrobe shelves had no space left for any more paper….it was time to put on my thinking hat (which was gathering dust in some hidden corner) and come up with some brilliant ideas that would make life simpler…..
As luck would have it, one day i happened to bump into my son’s first teacher ever…his kindergarten teacher….each year she would ask me about him (and continues to do so till this day, even though he is now a big boy in high school )….i told her about my dilemma about finding enough space to store everything my children had ever written or drawn….She laughed indulgently, nodding at the same time to indicate that she knew exactly how i felt….’Nim, you cannot store every single piece of paper they bring home forever, no matter how much you may want to’. I waited to hear what more she had to say….She is one of the wisest people i have ever met in my life, and i couldn’t wait to hear what pearls of wisdom she was about to dispense…
‘The one and ONLY thing you need to keep is their imaginative writing….’ she said with a gentle smile. I had to lean closer to hear her clearly..she always speaks in such a soft voice….’Each week, they write about a topic. You must keep all these writings. Then you can see as the years go by the change in the topics and style of their writing’.
I took her advice and have been following it till this day. Sure enough, each year i read their writing, and it is always with delight and a pang of nostalgia that i notice how grown-up their writing seems compared to before…When they were in kindergarten, they wrote things like ‘I don’t like my best friend any more’ (of course with heaps of spelling mistakes)….it is very different to what my son would write today in high school…..Sometimes, just for the fun of it, i will hold his kindergarten writing in one hand and his high school writing in the other….reading it brings many a laugh….and many a tear too for a childhood that is slowly being left behind…..