Blink—And They're Grown

Parents, Families and Child Care

Are You Guilty of Garboflage?

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Garboflage: the act of camouflaging your kids’ art in the garbage.

Admit it. You’ve hidden a drawing or two underneath the junk mail and leftovers. I commit garboflage weekly. It’s not that I don’t adore their work, it’s just that I’m just trying to keep our family off of the A&E show Hoarders.


I have three children and everyday they come home with backpacks bursting. As soon as they unzip their bags, out pops an insane amount of papers: worksheets, PTO letters, art projects, sale order forms, notes about book fair, behavior charts, reading logs, homework. It’s overwhelming. So I make piles of what to keep, what to return to school, and… garboflage. Over the years I’ve learned what is keep-worthy for me and what I can let go.

One item that always escapes the trash can? First grade writing. It seems like first grade is when children’s writing really comes alive.

By first grade most children recognize the relationship between sounds and letters. They are encouraged to write without worrying about spelling, which often results in writing words according to how they sound. For example, mornen = morning. For the child it makes perfect sense. For adults it’s like translating a secret code. It’s so much fun!  Decoding these messages gives me little clues into how my child’s brain works. How cool is that?!

Just the other day my first grader came home with a letter proclaiming his desire for a pet fish.  After decoding/reading it, I glanced up to his eager face as he asked, “Did I convince you?”

You bet he did.

So he got a pet fish and I got a cherished memory. It’s a win-win.

One thought on “Are You Guilty of Garboflage?

  1. I loved phonetic spelling, too. And the other guilty thing I did was go through their rooms with a trash bag when they weren’t home, to purge the house of fast food meal t oys.