Thursday, March 11, 2010


I carry a crazy rag bag of memory snippets around in my own head, and since my own head is the only one I can see from the inside, I'm never sure if it looks like anyone else's, but I must sort of assume it does or question my own sanity. I prefer not to question my own sanity, thank you. So I find myself lately thinking about the snippets of the past in my mental rag bag, and wondering about what bags my children will carry with them.

In my own bag, I have some particularly odd school-related scraps that seem to resurface frequently when I rifle through. There's a glimpse of myself in the fifth grade dressed as a cardboard hamburger for a play about nutrition, an even shorter piece in which I'm walking from one class to another trying to remember the spelling and definition of "bucolic" for a vocabulary test, a large swath of frustration from having to make the letter P into a picture that looked like a PIG in first grade, when already I could have spelled BOVINE but could not begin to draw so much as a recognizable stick figure. Then there are the bits of pieces of exceedingly random memories I carry around of my mom, apropos of nothing I can figure -- the bee that swam into her soda can at the pool, the time she made me go wallpaper shopping with her when I was 8 and I couldn't stay awake because it was so boring, how she took me to the mall with her once so she could buy a bathing suit for a trip to Florida even though when we got there it actually snowed while we were at Disney World.

Some of my memory snippets embarrass me; I mean, they are memories of me being embarrassed (like the time I forgot to lock the bathroom door when I was at work in college), and yet when I think of them, I relive the embarrassment as if for the first time.

I have an impulse to protect my children from the negative snippets, but I don't think that is possible.

When I catch myself saying something stupid or insensitive to them, I try to stop myself with this reminder: Do I want it to make into their high rotation snippets?

And sometimes, control freak that I guess I am, wishing I could take a moment we just had and foist in into their snippet library.

I guess now that they are getting to be ages that I can recall being myself, it occurs to me that we are truly laying a foundation for their memories now. It strikes me as a daunting thought, like the realization that, as they are about to turn 4 and 6, no babies live at my house any more.

One thing must be true: my children cannot possibly remember a time BEFORE we had ABA in our lives. My children cannot possibly remember life before autism, though they don't yet grasp what that means.

Also, there is no way they can remember me before I had grooves etched in my face. In their memory, I've always had "old feet," too.

Today as I drove to school, Peaches wanted to know all about my Grandpa. She kept getting confused between who her grandpa is and who mine was, but she kept saying, "Can you tell me more?" I told her the big stuff first, and then I had to rely on the snippets. When I close my eyes and picture my grandpa, I briefly see him putting his keys in the pocket of his plaid golf pants, then next dancing a little jig around the breakfast table, then taking bananas to his 92-year-old mother, then handing me a stick of Big Red gum. Sadly, I have no way to pass those snippets to my kids, or make them very meaningful or coherent for them, so I keep those to myself, cherishing the way they keep my grandparents alive for me if not for my children. Surely these memories make me wonder what will first will come to my children's minds about me one day. Just the thought is enough to inspire me to my best behavior for at least a little while.

When I think about school, and particularly my son's experience with it, I get very anxious about the memories he's making there, and the impression that they leave with him.

Does anyone else feel this way, too?


Kim said...

Yes, yes, yes. I think about this all the time. I love the way you've described these little memories as "snippets," it's perfect and true. I worry about the memories that will stay with the Roc. I wonder what things he will remember about his early childhood with me.

redheadmomma said...

This is a big reason why I scrapbook - to document those snippets. I have a list of "memory snippets" from when I was little - things like going to the strawberry fields growing up in california, or making a cow puppet in the 2nd grade for a puppet show. And yes, I have those miserable memory snippets too, but you bet your bippy those are not on the list. I think that these random memories are completely fascinating, and I'm planning on ordering a photo book with them. and recreating some things with a picture of a HUGE strawberry like the ones that the ladies always gave me at the stand in the warm sun. XO

jess said...