Memories are terrible. Even the best ones. We think of them like a computer hard drive. When we access them, we have this idea that the stored information is reality, unchanged from days or months or years passed. But memory is in flux like anything. And no memories change moreso than the ones parents have of their constantly changing kids. This is useful. If parents remembered accurately all the struggles of bringing the first child into the world, there would be a lot of only children.
One reason for writing this blog is so I’ll have a more accurate idea of what has been. Not the full picture, of course. But a small sliver of truth.
Here’s what I want to remember at the 18-month mark:
- The morning Declan slept in past 7 (that would be this morning) and I had an hour of calm and quiet amid the morning light.
- The way he greets me in the morning. First, by name. Dad. Then by naming all the things he knows in his line of sight, starting with the color of the door (brown), moving onto the color of the iPad, the color of my shirt, any letters that might be on my shirt, the species or color of, or noise made by, the stuffed animal in his crib, etc.
- How he pulls his shoes off without fail, every time we drive to the coffee shop. And inevitably, there will be groans of frustration emanating from the backseat until the last shoe is off.
- How he paints. For reasons unknown to me, he wants to sit on my lap without actually sitting there. He keeps trying to position himself there, and then gets annoyed when he can’t reach the table. He is mischievous with the paint brush. He starts to walk away from the arts and crafts table we have and toward the white walls or flat screen TV, all the time looking back and smiling repeating the word no. That’s right, Declan. Don’t paint on the wall.
- How I was sick and lying on the couch as he and Colleen painted, and he came over and grabbed my hand and said go go. Like he wanted me to part of the action.
- The way every word he says is a staccato bark, like someone punched him in the stomach as he was speaking. But in a way that brought about joy, not pain. Everything he says sounds urgent and exciting.
- The dozens of words I have to interpret. Airplane, banana bread, dump truck. These words all sound basically the same at this point. But I can tell the difference because I’m his dad. It’s cool to be the dad.
- The work he does. He has little projects. Putting things away. Moving something from one place to another and then back. Pushing an object to a different location. If America’s workers are this efficient and focused in the future, look out.
- The laughs I get when I chase him, or run behind a door and hide. Just the best.
- The same conversations over and over.
Him: Go go!
Me: Where do you want to go-go?
Me: Do you want water, or do you want your Mama?
And so on.
- The fussing and tears that follow being told he can’t do what he wants. Because if you’re going to remember the fun stuff, you should remember the not-so-fun stuff, too.
- Being tired. Not eating well with the excuse that I’m too busy watching a child. Getting sick more often.
- Feeling simultaneously ready for the next phase (school/daycare of some sort) and emotionally attached to the current one to the point of not ever wanting to look at potential schools/daycares.
- How happy Declan is. I say this mostly based on outside observations. Most everyone who meets him makes that remark. He just seems so happy. I’m thankful for that. I hope he has a lot of happiness in his childhood.
Another memory I will carry is writing this blog. Of sharing these stories with friends and family. Memories backed up on an actual hard drive, and hopefully, pereserved for future generations.