We have three boxes in the basement—one for each child—saving art and school work for an as-yet-undetermined future. Mother's Day and Father's Day gifts, red-bearded Thanksgiving turkeys, crayoned Halloween pumpkins, and a wide variety of art and science projects patiently wait to be rediscovered. Hidden and forgotten prized work showcasing incredible talents far beyond the capabilities of other children. The picture-of-an-angelic-child Christmas ornaments come out every year to show the annual progression of each child going through the elementary school years and remind us how fast they grow up and when they get “to old” for certain things. Smiles with teeth missing and reappearing express that youthful exuberant innocence that fades just a bit each year as they become more aware of the world outside their school and neighborhood.
When I was in my forties my mom gave me some pictures I drew when I was in elementary school. Even though I don't remember doing a single one, when I look at them that feeling of innocence returns. A time when my whole world consisted of a two-block area where I never ran out of room, I always had something to do, and I was never troubled by the outside world. The Vietnam war, glue sniffing, the drug counterculture, and assassinations did not happen on Bryant Street and so were not part of my world.
This is the latest work of art for which I am to perform my curator duties. It's a science project Stephanie did for school. Maybe thirty or forty years from now I'll return it to her—if it survives. And maybe she'll look back and fondly remember how great life was before she had to concern herself with the outside world. The time when an innocent and carefree life was the greatest gift parents could give their children.