Family Humor

On Selective Remembering

Hand Hearts

Last month, a friend was talking about how she feels like she is losing control of so many things in her children’s lives. Her eldest son will be heading for high school in September, and she had just learned he had watched The Hangover and Wedding Crashers while at a friend’s house: two movies she didn’t think were appropriate for someone his age.

“But what can I do?” she asked, shrugging her shoulders. “He was at someone else’s house? I can’t control everything all the time, can I?”

Then she began to fret over how her younger son’s bus driver allowed his middle school-aged riders to listen to all kinds of music, much of which she considered to have inappropriate lyrics.

“Did your son’s bus driver let the kids listen to music?” she asked.

“I don’t know,” I said, honestly. I mean, the topic had never come up. “Let’s ask him.”

We called Monkey over from where he was doing something Monkey-ish to ask him our mommy-questions.

“Were you allowed to listen to music on the bus this year?” I asked.

Monkey thought for about .3 seconds and then answered with absolute certainty.


And then something happened inside my brain: a little click: that proverbial light-bulb warming to slow glow.

“Dude,” I smiled, “You don’t know what happens on the bus…” I paused for effect.

Monkey looked confused.

“You’re a walker!” I laughed.

Monkey smacked his forehead with his hand and wandered away laughing.

Our house is located about 200 feet from the back of my son’s school. Each morning at 7:13 AM, Monkey put his dishes in the sink, opened the sliding glass doors, and slid out back where he disappeared behind a bunch of pine trees and evergreens. We both know this. It was his routine for 180 days.

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Our simultaneous forgetting was a peculiar mother-and-son moment.

We used to do so much together. Everything. For years, he was like an extra appendage, wrapped around my leg or lying across my lap. Many times, I have answered a question that he had not yet even asked.

“Yes,” I would say.

“I didn’t even ask you anything yet?” Monkey would say.

“Yes, you can have dessert. Go ahead.” And then we would cozy up on separate ends of the couch with only our toes touching, eating small bowls filled with vanilla ice cream and rainbow sprinkles.

Back then, he thought I was magic.

For a period there, I was sure I would remember everything, each detail. The curve of his pinky as it curled around his blue blanket while he napped.

But you don’t; you forget things.

And it’s okay, I guess.

I love that he is growing older, growing into the person he will one day become more fully.

But there are some things I miss: like those Vulcan mind-meld moments.

So I guess I’m mourning something, too.

Who knew?

What things have you forgotten lately that you know you should absolutely know?

33 thoughts on “On Selective Remembering

  1. While my daughter is older than Monkey (and in college) we still have mind-meld moments. However, I don’t know everything that she does, like I used to, so we don’t share everything anymore. But that’s how it’s supposed to be. I love that she is independent but miss sharing so much with her. I guess that means we are both growing up.

      1. Yes, time is slipping but hold onto whatever you can without suffocating both Monkey and yourself! 😉

    1. Jess:

      Happy b’day to Bug — in advance. It is amazing. And just you wait. He needs you not, he needs you not. Until he needs you. I just can’t believe all the forgetting! I hope you are scribbling “Bug-notes” somewhere. 😉

  2. I live abroad and am always having the same conversations with people about where they’re from, what they do, and how long before they go home. I ask casual friends the same questions again and again because I don’t see them frequently enough to remember the answers.

  3. I had an experience this very morning! Heading into work I bumped into a colleague of mine who I haven’t seen for a while (feel free to correct the ‘who’ to ‘whom’ if necessary, I get those so easily confused!).

    We spent a bit of time catching up on how we’d each been and we got to a point where he mentioned the fact that he’d enjoyed being on holiday. It even took him answering my question about how and where he’d spent the time to remind me that we’d talked about his holiday before he left!

  4. I’ve forgotten everything on the “Honey Do” list. To my credit, we did just spend the weekend on Cape Cod and there was copious amounts of wine, beer, and some other substances. I am very confident, however, that I will be reminded of what exactly is on the “Honey Do” list. Repeatedly.

    1. Oh Eric:

      I’m sure your wifey will make sure the Honeydew List is back on track ASAP. How nice to have had a break from it all though, right?

      Now about those other substances. I assume we are talking about tomato juice and lemonade, right? 😉

  5. Love this post, Renée…sounds like your friend needs to relax a bit more…

    I’ll be 50 in six days…it’s a wonder I can still remember my own name…sigh…


    1. Wendy!

      Happy early b’day! So it’s true then… more starts to slide? I often find myself selecting the wrong word from the word shelf. So it’s going to get worse, right? Is that what you are saying?

      What does it matter anyway, really — especially when you have such a nice pair of…eyes. 😉

  6. My son is 25. I remember the best of him and how he made me better than I ever thought I could be. I remember my mistakes, but forget his. I hope it’s the same for him.

    Thanks for reminding me to be grateful, even though I still consider myself a clueless mom!

  7. I can remember every phone number I’ve ever had.

    But I cannot remember where my keys are or (some mornings) to put the margarine in the fridge and not the cupboard.

    Do you think I need help?

    (Great writing, by the way. Beautiful!)

    1. I put my keys in the pantry today. How long tdo you think it took me to find them?

      Answer: Long enough so I had to cancel two appointments and so I was still in my jammies running from room to room (frantically) when the cute guys came to fix the sunken patio step. Yeah, that was hot.

      Finally, I got hungry and voila.

      Let’s just plan on going to an old folk’s home together. 😉

  8. This isn’t my story, but it’s a good one: Leaving the office late this evening, I bumped into a co-worker that uses a park-n-ride outside the city (on my way home) and I offered a ride to her car, saving her the 40-minute transit ride.

    As I dropped her off, she turned to me and said, “Thanks very much. Sure beats last week, when I took the evening train back to this parking lot… and then remembered I drove into the office that day.”

    Say it with me: oh, fudgecakes.

  9. Hi Renee,

    I had to smile as I read this. It’s true that we forget things as we replace those early memories with new ones. But we only forget them temporarily. They come back from time to time and when they do they are as vivid as ever.

    I feel for your friend’s concerns, but once they get to high school moderating what they watch and what they listen to is tough. I’ve found it more effective to do less moderating and more listening so that we can talk about the things that she’s exposed to. The other day, I was shocked when my older daughter expressed a forgive and forget attitude about what Chris Brown did to Rhiana. “People make mistakes,” she said. We talked and I tried to explain the difference between making a mistake, which we all do, and beating up a woman. I Googled pictures of the aftermath of that assault and ask, “Are you okay with this?”

    I don’t know if any mind changing occurred, but by being aware of what she listens to (even though it hurts my ears) we can address issues like this when they come up.


    1. Ray, that’s a good point. Right now, Monkey and I have a great line of communication. Because he’s 11-years old. Who knows where we’ll be by the time he enters high school? Hopefully, he won’t be horrified by my very existence.

      If I’m lucky, I’ll be the “cool mom” and all his friends will want to hang out here on Saturday nights — just talking about politics and 60 Minutes and stuff. *cough* Doubt it. 😉

  10. Running. My son and I used to run together a lot – racing each other or just for the joy of it – not hard for me to keep up because he was titchy then, but nippy with it.
    Now he’s bigger – 11 – we’re about to start it again – but this time his legs are longer and he’s getting into cross country running. I’d forgotten about our early Chariots of Fire period. I may not be keeping up so easily this time.

  11. I’ve felt a lot more forgetful as of late. I don’t think I’m losing it–yet. I think I just have more on my mind.
    A few months ago I ran into a woman that I worked with for 12 years. For the life of me I couldn’t think of her first name. Thankfully, my uber-polite husband introduced himself and she told him her name. At least I only looked rude for not introducing them instead of appearing senile! 🙂

  12. I’m going to opt share a little something about how I prevent forgetting the little things. I have a pretty pressed paper journal that I keep and every now and then when E does something I want to make sure I remember, or we have an exceptionally great experience together as a family or as a couple, i jot it down in there.
    I hope this doesn’t soune morbid, but I’ve titled the journal “Things I Want to Remember When I’m Old”.
    These are not blog post worthy things, nor are they particularly private. They’re just good memories of simple times that I don’t want to slip away from me amid the rest of the more boisterous aspects of our lives.

    1. My motto is make memories every day and then you can look back on them with joy when you reach my age.
      I have always written down things and happenings – not everything of course and those that are not written down have been lost. But just occasionally I read a blog and it reminds me of something that I hadn’t even thought about for years.
      Thanks for sharing.

  13. I agree with you there. Some days I feel guilty for not being a scrap booker, but I figure I will always remember the feelings, even if I can’t remember the visuals. Wonderfully worded description of a feeling a lot of parents probably have but can’t explain.

    1. Hi Andi!
      *waves hi to a new friend*
      Thanks for the kind words. I always figured I would remember everything, but I’m starting to realize there is too much everything. My brain is super-saturated. I can’t believe I even pulled that word out. That came from, like, high school chemistry or something. 😉

  14. I forgot the name of my 6-yr-old’s teacher!! Good grief! They are out of school a month and I blank on the name. My mind is oatmeal. I stood there stammering like a fool. It eventually came to me…but not soon enough!

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