Something happened recently to remind me what a great memory my child actually has…about some things. And this is despite “forgetting” important things that are painstakingly reinforced every day: “Don’t. climb. on. the. furniture.” “Don’t. take. off. all. your. clothes. before. you. go. outside.” “Don’t. put. ANYTHING. in. the. toilet.”
Kids, in general, seem to have excellent memories. But seriously selective ones. Usually about stuff that sounds morbid or grotesque when articulated by a preschooler to someone who doesn’t know the backstory.
I’m constantly musing about whether “this” will be the one single solitary memory my child takes into adulthood from this entire year of her life on earth. Or maybe it will be “this” one.
Will my daughter remember me in my least favorable light? Will she have a permanent impression of something I said in passing? Of something I can’t even remember doing? Based on the crazy things I remember from early childhood, anything’s possible.
These memories of my child surface randomly. Usually, at bedtime. Often surrounding something she feels guilty about. “I pushed Alexa at church.” (What?) “I broke the plant and had to go in time out. I rippppppped it; like THIS!” (Demonstrates.)
But sometimes her memories are much more inconvenient. “You yelled at Daddy! Like this: grhhh! You told him to GO AWAY! You told me to go play with toys and I didn’t want to!” And she’s so dramatic in the retelling. I’m always like, seriously? Can’t you forget that memory already?
Or, “I didn’t eat my sandwich but then you ate it and threw it away. All GONE. My sannnnnndwicccccccch!!” No matter how I try, I can’t convince her that that’s not how that went down – six weeks ago.
I was trying to gear up my preschooler for the idea that her dad and I would be going out of town, just a quick overnight.
A big part of the preparation was playing up the part where she’d be doing a sleepover with her cousin Nori and her aunt “like a big girl” (a tagline I add to a lot of my statements lately).
The last time I collected Muffin from a playdate at their house she screamed the whole way home in protest. I pulled over when it got too intense. Twice. Yes, I felt the love.
Here’s the thing, I couldn’t remember the last time my husband and I had gone anywhere significant together without our three-year-old. She’s always with us (but we’ve got two wonderful babysitters now so that’s changing).
But Muffin, with her super-hero sized preschooler memory, reminded me…in detail…that several weeks prior we had in fact LEFT (she makes it sound like such a bad word – left) her with my in-laws, while we looked at a house and ran errands.
While I totally forgot, she hadn’t. “I don’t want you driving in the car with Daddy! With you in the Mommy Seat, puttin’ on your make up, looking in the mirror like THIS [squints to demonstrate]. And puttin’ it on your eyes. And Daddy in the Daddy Seat beepin’ the horn in the driveway! And you guys wavin’ and sayin’ ‘Bye Bye!’ when I’m on the porch with Grandma and Grand-daddy!”
Doesn’t it just kill you? The way they remember things? And I do put makeup on my eyes in the car…guilty as charged.
Somehow, Muffin made it through our overnight away. In fact, she didn’t look back once when we dropped her off. Though I heard about “the time” we LEFT her at Grandma and Granddaddy’s house a lot.
I’m still trying to figure out what else she’s remembering. What lasting impressions that little perspective of hers is imprinting forever in her memory vaults.
Last night after our big Easter, I was thinking it’d be great if she remembered: “Do. not. EVER. climb. inside. the. dryer. EVER.” This morning before I drove her to the babysitter, it was: “Do. not. stand. on. Mommy’s. dishwasher. EVER. EVER. EVER. EVER.”
But…nope. No recollection there. Those were two completely “I do not recall” moments.
But some things I can be sure of. At some point, she will say, “You ‘Skeamed’ at me Mommy! You ‘Skeamed’ at me like this: ‘NOOOOOO!'”
Because, well, I did.
And that may be all her seriously selective memory will retain. That’s just how it goes down.
We’ll sort it all in therapy later.