Saturday, October 01, 2005

the great paper purge of 2005

I was up until well past 2AM this morning, sorting through and discarding more than 2 years of my kids' school papers. It really is astonishing how much paper they generate. What's even more astonishing is that I managed to somehow cram 2+ years of work into the plastic chest-of-drawers I bought at Target -- plus the overflow on the desk and kitchen counter, of course.

It was the sheer volume of the overflow that finally got me out of my complacent stupor with respect to the ever-growing encroachment of the vast paper pile on all of my workspace. My desk I had long since ceded, but when I started having trouble finding space to make a salad, I knew that Something Must Be Done.

I knew it was going to be a big task and so I kept putting it off. I also knew it would be impossible to accomplish if the kids were around. I had idly thought of starting it after the kids went to bed last night, but then got sucked into something or other on the TiVO. I can't even remember what it was, so it mustn't have been too compelling.

All I know is, I lounged around for quite a while and only stirred myself when it was just past 11, and then for some reason I will never quite understand, it seemed like a good idea: I started sorting the papers on the kitchen counter. Then I just thought, what the heck, and scooped up everything off the counter, and the desk, and then camped out by the chest-of-drawers, and went through everything.

I was surprised to see how much DS1's handwriting has improved, and had to smile at some of the stories from his first grade journal. I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of pictures DD had drawn for me, inscribed either "to mom from [DD]" or "i (heart) u mom" or "i love mi mom" or some combination of these. I kept a few, of course, but to keep them all would be insane. DS2 of course lags his older siblings in "stuff", but even he has a sizeable collection of photos and keepsakes from preschool.

I'm trying not to feel guilty for discarding so much. I kept the final report cards and any interim report with interesting comments. I kept the award papers, and the special reports (although I couldn't find DS1's Gila Monster report, it had better be around here somewhere!). But there's no reason to keep every single math worksheet, or every spelling test. We'd never make it through elementary school with a livable home if we did.

So now the chest of drawers is nearly empty, ready for this year's papers. There are some things from previous years that I'll be moving into memory boxes, but now that the overflow has been dealt with, it's OK if I don't get around to those boxes immediately. Now I have a desk and a kitchen counter to work on. Yay!

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