From Trash to Treasure

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"Mommy! Willie knocked over the trash can!" Julia, 9, bellows from the kitchen. I enter the kitchen to see our very guilty dog, Willie, cowering in a corner, trash strewn everywhere and Julia standing in the midst of it all with a horrified look on her face.

It takes me a second for me to realize that Julia's stricken expression isn't because of some smelly trash object — her eyes are fixed on a piece of her artwork that rolled out of the can along with some dead lettuce. She fixes me with an angry "How could you?" stare, eyes brimmed with tears.

I silently curse Willie for exposing my dirty secret — I dispose of select artwork and math sheets when no one is looking — and then I apologize to Julia. For the record, we do have an entire wall in our kitchen dedicated to watercolors, sketches, collages and any other creation my talented, and very prolific, artiste makes. Unfortunately, I'd need a whole other house to display everything she produces.

Later, as I sorrowfully recount the episode to a friend, she suggests I take some of the extraneous artwork and have Julia give it to relatives for the holidays. I immediately share this idea with Julia, who loves it even though she's still a little stung about finding her canvas in the trash.

The next day we head to our local art store to pick out some real red ribbon to tie around the art after we roll it up. Then Julia sets about choosing which pieces will go to which relative.

"Grandma Mary should have this one because she loves flowers," Julia says as she selects one of her stunning watercolors. As I look longingly at that painting she says, "Sorry, Mommy, it's not for you."

After she's finished, she proudly wraps, ties, and labels her gifts and places them under our tree. Safely away from the circular file cabinet, Julia's artwork lies nestled between the presents ready to be discovered on Christmas day.

I give our dog, Willie, a pat when I see that one of Julia's masterpieces has "Mommy" on the card — guess I'm officially off the "naughty" list.

How do you make use of your children's extra artwork? Click the comments link below to find and share solutions.

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From Trash to Treasure

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