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By Contributing Mama Daphne Biener

Not long ago my daughters discovered that some of their precious art work goes pretty much straight into the recycling box.  Never mind that it is a carefully culled, minuscule fraction of what they create.  Because at this point I have transformed, in their minds, into a callous, uncaring cleaning machine tossing masterpieces to the curb in a willy-nilly quest to de-clutter our home.

I categorically deny this characterization.

They may not know it, but there is a towering stack of artwork in the basement.  I have saved countless samples from each child in an attempt to document the miraculous transformation from scribbles to stick figures to fairies and families.

There are also a few other, er, items of memorabilia that I have saved. With the passing of time these items have become so heavy with wistful reminiscence, so magically infused with nostalgia, that I am no longer able to throw them away.  Despite my deep belief that they really need to be thrown away.

But perhaps it’s beyond my control. After all, they say that heredity is destiny…

About ten years ago I was helping my mother clean out our childhood home when I came across an old medication vial.  Opaque and orange and rattling.  I popped that puppy open, sending 60 minuscule baby teeth dancing across the floor.  It was gruesome.

“Why Mom? Why?” I cried in distress, wringing my hands and looking tortured.

My mother, apparently a secret collector of creepy carnage, looked wistfully down at the pile of teeth. She smiled as she rubbed her fingers back and forth over a disembodied ponytail tied with a pink ribbon.  I ran screaming, before zombies crawled out from under the bed to join her.

60 teeth.  Mine, my brother’s, my sister’s, all commingled in one ancient sinister vial. A 20-year old hunk of blond toddler hair. Memorabilia sure, if you’re Freddy Kruger’s mom.  It was gross. Truly gross.

Now before everyone jumps to my mother’s defense, I should offer up a little confession:  Upstairs, in my nightstand drawer, is a baggie of baby teeth. Only eight so far but if I’m being honest, my insanity shows no sign of stopping.

It started innocently enough; my baby girl lost a tooth.  A tooth! A tiny piece of the precious time capsule that took us from aching baby gums to gaping smiles to giant crooked teeth fighting for space in her sweet little mouth.

I should blame my mother.  This propensity for creepiness is clearly stamped into my DNA.

Oh, while I’m confessing, there is one more thing.  And if you were even the slightest bit turned off by the baggie of teeth, you might want to log off here.

If you’re reading this, you’re probably familiar with the joy of watching that second pink line appear.  You may even have spent 3 minutes hovering over a plastic stick yourself, waiting for confirmation of your seat on the wild nine month ride that ends with your being interested in reading things that mama birds tend to write.

Every home is different, but one might imagine that within the subsequent moments of the appearance of that life-changing line there are tears, maybe some hugs, perhaps even some hesitation over the enormity of the moment.  But certainly, amidst the excitement one thing definitely happens: that plastic bearer of baby news makes it into trash.

Except sometimes, it doesn’t.

Maybe what happens is that it sits there on the counter flaunting its wondrous news for a week or so and then maybe it gets stashed in a hasty moment into the cupboard behind the dental floss where it sits and sits and quietly, innocuously, sits some more.

I know. It’s not pretty.  I’ve tried a number of times over the years to throw it away, but I can’t.  The power in the pee stick is strong, and I cower before that power.

It’s bad, I know. But no one can say that I’m a ruthless recycler of nostalgia.

You can read more of Daphne’s work on the Rocky Mountain Moms blog or visit her eco-fabulous blog, A Greener Biener.

17 Responses to a penny saved is one thing

  • Rhea says:

    The power of the pee stick. lol You’re hilarious.

    I kept one for a while, then finally threw it away. I do save teeth. It is creepy when you think about it…

  • dave says:

    If you were trying to keep me from going into the nightstand on your side of the bed, you have succeeded. Why now, after 10 years, am I just learning of this latent creepy gene?

  • Sandy says:

    I couldn’t bring myself to throw away my children’s baby teeth, retrieved from under the pillow by the tooth fairy. I still find baggies of teeth — and hair clippings too — stashed away in the corners of dresser drawers now and then. It does seems somewhat creepy now. Hmmmm . . .

  • Robin says:

    We’ve been scrapbooking where that powerful pee stick made it into the baby album. I”m not there yet, but it does still sit in my “motherhood box”…

  • Sheila Graziano says:

    I saw just this thing the other day on Oprah. What they did with the art work was take a picture of the art work. When you have enough pictures of their wonderful creations, you can go to snapfish, Apple or any of your favorite photo sites & create a book of their creations. This way there is no clutter & you have their treasures forever.

  • Kelly says:

    It’s so great that you came out about these things. Truth be told, I have both of my postive home prego tests saved. Garon hates it, but I can’t get rid of them.

  • Kelcey says:

    I just love the way you describe things… “Mine, my brother’s, my sister’s, all commingled in one ancient sinister vial.”

    I never considered keeping the pregnancy sticks. Of course, I don’t remember exactly throwing them out either. I guess I’ll find them when I move someday.

  • patois says:

    I’m actually quite afraid of going through the boxes and boxes and boxes I’ve saved. Precisely because I wonder what urine on a stick does to the other items in a box.

  • Jordana says:

    I saved both girls’ umbilical cord stumps – my mom saved mine (it’s in my baby book) so maybe there is something to this genetic idea of saving body memorabilia. Anyone save their first condom…hee hee…

  • Lanie says:

    I’ve got the pee sticks (if you find any safety in numbers. . .).

    As for the kids art – did you hear about Oprah’s “Clean Up Your Messy House” show? Oprah’s suggestion:

    “Overwhelmed by what to do with growing piles of your child’s art projects? Peter has a great solution! “Take digital photos of their artwork, upload them to Snapfish.com, and they will send you back a beautiful, bound book of the kids’ artwork. So, over time, you can build a library of your children’s artwork—let the pieces go, but keep them in this form forever.”

  • Brooke says:

    Confessions of a fellow creepy Mom: I save it all. All of it – every wayward tooth, every tiny hospital bracelet, every golden curl (okay, so she’s five now – were we really supposed to stop saving after that first cut?), etc., etc.

    About a month ago, I cut these golden locks. Earlier this week, I opened the TV credenza in our bedroom (don’t judge – the sex may have actually improved. Who says TVs in the bedroom can’t be a good thing?) to stand face-to-face with a newly-snipped tuft waiting for me there.

    Yes, these little priceless keepsakes aren’t particularly organized and don’t seem to discriminate about where they might want to land in my crazy little world.

    So, creepy is alive and well in our household. Do you still want to be friends?

    As for the oh-so-lovely pieces of art that come early and often and secretly haunt our subconscious minds by telling us that one day we will pay for it if we throw anything that our future Picasso draws: I keep the things my child seems to especially love and care about – and the occasional piece that calls my name – and I toss (I mean, recycle, Greener) the rest. I know, I know. One day, I’m going to regret it.

    When that day comes, and I’m asked, I’ll say, “I have saved everything my little Picasso has ever drawn.”

    Shhh! Don’t tell. It can be our little secret.

  • Ghania says:

    WOW…. that’s all I have to say….WOW. Really curious to know what the girls will say about seeing the lines that were their beginnings.

  • Grace says:

    As you can imagine, i do not save all of the pictures and school projects just some. BUT i do still have both sticks, the cord stumps, first hair cuts, outfits they wore home from the hospital, and will most likely save teeth when that happens too. I DO NOT see anything icky about it because it is little pieces of them. I think thinking it is gross is weird!

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