I Write About My Children Because My Memory Is So Unreliable

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I wrote last week about when I should stop writing about my children…this week I consider why I write about them in the first place…

I know she won’t remember it when she’s grown, and I likely won’t either, but right now, in this moment in time, my daughter thinks I’m the funniest person in the world. Now, her brothers or her mom might argue this point, but this is my story and I am the ultimate judge.

I’m standing in the kitchen. It’s another languorous weekday. The boys are at school. We’ve already watched videos, played dolls, and eaten unhealthy snacks. My three-year-old daughter announces that we should play “STOPPPP!” She holds her hand out as she bellows “STOPPPP” in a deeper than normal voice.

I immediately know what she means. She picks up a small broom from her brother’s toy cleaning kit on the other side of the kitchen. She turns to face me, and it is game on. Oh, I forgot to mention she has roller skates on for some reason. They are her oldest brother’s and much too big, but she can still maneuver in them rather impressively for her age.

She rolls toward me with the broom pointing toward my knee cap and when she gets close, I hold up my hand and bellow “STOPPPPP” in a deeper than normal voice. She laughs hysterically. Then, she proceeds to circle behind me, like a slightly tipsy hockey player corralling the puck behind the net to find a better angle. She sweeps me with the broom as she passes by, giggling, and skates back across the room to the cleaning set.

We repeat this activity for several minutes until she has prodded me with every miniature cleaning implement available. Each time I bellow “STOPPPPP” she laughs as mirthfully as if she were watching an episode of Derry Girls.

See, I’m hilarious.

Later, we’re seated on the floor in the living room. It’s still inexplicably the same day. The same morning, actually. I’m sitting cross-legged on a yoga mat. My daughter is arranging Little People® figurines on the mat and tinkering with the Little People school bus. When all is suitably arranged to her standards, she tells me to put the people on the bus to go to school. At first, I fail to collect their imaginary backpacks and lunch boxes, so we have to start over.

Once I get it right, she rolls the bus away. Then she looks back at me. Her unkempt bangs slip down over her eyes. I reach to swipe them away, almost compulsively. I continually try to tuck them behind her ear but it’s impossible. I’ve yet to learn this is not how bangs work. Her hair in the back is messy and a little tangly. A small bird would probably enjoy making a home there if given the opportunity.

She stares straight at me, her icy blue eyes meeting mine, and removes the bus driver from her seat. I say, “Heyy!” I say this not because I’m shocked by the turn of events, but because I’m required to by three-year-old law. She laughs hysterically. Showing her small white teeth. There is the slightest gap between the front two. The skin at her eyes crinkles up around the edges. She then places a different figurine in the driver’s seat and presses down to make the bus play a song. I open my eyes as wide as I can to display my shock at this heinous transgression.

She laughs hysterically again.

We repeat this series of events at least seventeen or eighteen times and she laughs just as hard each time I say “Heyy” or put on my surprised face. It’s like she’s watching the “Man in a Hurry” episode from The Andy Griffith Show on a continual loop. It just never gets old.

It’s funny how much time we spend doing things we’ll never remember. I’m certain I spent many hours engaged in similar highly entertaining activities with both my sons when they were three years old, but I’m hard pressed to remember the details. Except, of course, for the activities or events I wrote about. Those remain a bit clearer, at least when I go back and read about them.

I’m assume I was just as hilarious two and four years ago, but I can’t say for certain. I can only check my paper trail—or digital trail as it were—to try to jog my memory just a little.

It’s also funny how parents can mourn the loss of things before they’re gone. The smiles, the laughter, the messy hair curled up at the ends. Sometimes when I’m sitting on the hardwood floor for what seems like hours with it all right in front of me, I find my mind wandering to an imagined future where none of it is there anymore. And I wish more than anything that my memory was more reliable.

But when you know your memory can’t be trusted. When you know there is so much you won’t remember. Sometimes you just have to stop and take notes.

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