A few weeks ago the younger child brought home another piece of classroom Art, consisting of an unpainted Pringles tin, which was glued to a piece of paper, which was glued to a cornflakes box.
“It’s a robot,” she told me, dumping it on the dining room table, where it sat for a few days and was dutifully admired by her father and me. Several times, loudly, as her artist’s ego demanded.
Then, after a week, I thought it was time to move it on to the Big Art Gallery in the Sky. Also known as, the recycle bin. Final exhibition space of several other pieces, including Yellow Felt Pen Squiggle, Glue and Glitter Dump, and Messy Collage of Nothing Recognisable.
Anyway, the plan was to move the sculpture from the dining room table to the kitchen dresser for a few days, and then, when it was safely out of mind, chuck it. Once it’s in the recycling it’s perfectly safe because the day is yet to come when Roxanne throws anything in the bin instead of hiding it under the ottoman or behind the TV cabinet.
Or so I thought.
One otherwise peaceful afternoon in the kitchen, while I stood at the sink mainlining coffee, I turned around to find my little Duchamp pointing into the recycle bin.
“What,” she demanded, tiny bottom lip aquiver, “is that doing there?”
Her opus. Crammed headfirst, between a clutch of empty toilet rolls and an ice cream carton.
I thought quickly. My options were:
1. Admit that I threw it away on purpose, and explain gently that it was really just a fine motor control exercise at school and is of no artistic merit whatsoever.
2. Lie and say that I threw it away by mistake. Because it’s hard to tell the difference between it and the pile of cardboard rubbish from whence it sprang.
3. Blame her father.
“Oh no,” I said, hauling the crushed thing out and putting it the right way up (I think). “What on earth is that doing in there? Darling, Daddy must have made a terrible mistake. He didn’t know it was your robot! He would never have thrown it away on purpose.”
Her father suffered some verbal abuse in absentia but by the time he came home she’d forgotten about it. And before I even had a chance to feel guilty about heaping blame on an innocent head, it was my turn.
“You forgot to give us towels,” the children informed me, after an afternoon at the local pool.
This surprised me, because I wasn’t even in the house when the swimming bag was packed.
“We all had to share one towel and Daddy said it was because you forgot ours.”
“Really?” I said, shooting my husband a look. “How unbelievably silly of me. I must try to do better next time.”
So we’re even.