The question about how best to record the architecture of my children's childhood is often on my mind. Being a homeschooler, record keeping is done - at least in the sense of paper output and semi-objective notes about this achievement or that challenge - reflexively. Smootch's drawings and written words will be kept long enough that sometime later an adult Smootch will become completely exasperated with all this stuff her mother saved from her childhood. And she will be just as unable to throw it out and then add her own children's scribbles and letters to the tooth fairy to our archives.
There is a form of magic in the development common to most people, from learning to walk, to using a toilet, to reading and riding a bike. It is interesting and important minutiae to the development of every person, and I certainly would never dismiss it, but it isn't actually terribly memorable.
You don't believe me? I am a woman with pictures of her son's first bowel movement extruded neatly in the potty, taken by The Man because it happened while I was out of the house and he thought that I might want to see.
He was wrong.
I have almost no interest in Birdie's shit, beyond the moment it is produced and disposed of in the most convenient manner possible. I celebrate his achievement and wish that he continues his journey towards total bowel and bladder mastery. Go Birdie Boy!
But what I want to remember long after Birdie flies away, given that my memory is finite, is not all how he learned to walk or read or drive a motorbike, but also his chin thrust out grin when he was feeling proud and how his eyes twinkled whenever he was planning to whack his sister in the head with a toy and how his two year old sweat smelled sweet like oranges. His tantrums and his tenderness. His spontaneous wrapping of his arms around his father and I, telling us how much he loves us.
I want to remember the first time Smootch and I shared a joke. (She was five months old and we were laying face to face on the bed when she suddenly sneezing, surprising us both. It was terrifically funny.) I want to remember how six year old Smootch would put herself in Time Out for an hour a day because she needed sometime to work out a plot with her dolls before she could present a story to the world. I want to remember every single time she felt frightened and unsure but did it anyway. My darling warrior.
I have almost no information about who I was as a child. A couple of photos no one can remember where they were took, but no family memories shared during get togethers, no funny little stories, no anecdotes. The only descriptive term I have heard to describe Vegbee the Child was 'bossy'.
I do hope to give more to my children. But more so, I hope to give more to myself. My life slips past in seconds and minutes, through daily routines and outings and playing and reading and the thousands of little things I do everyday. It's easy to get distracted. Miss the details. Forget.
And I know, by the people I love who are no longer on this earth with me, forgetting is heartbreak.
So how to keep it all, or at least some, of this charmed and relentless time? Boxes of drawings, photos, outgrown baby clothes and blankets? All this precious detritus, I fear, is not going to cut it.
I want to REMEMBER.
Remember their personalities, their smells, that horrible racket when they fight, the sweet sound of a toddler's mumbled rendition of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, the fierce belief in fairies and enchanted princesses and magic, their wrong guesses and spooky insights. So much that the camera doesn't capture, that no one thinks to write down, that passes by without any more thought.
Each night I revisit my day, talk about it with The Man. He thinks I'm passing along information, all the sweet events and frustrations that he missed while at work, while we become reacquainted each night.
I'm recounting the minutes and small stories
I may remember.