Wednesday, October 24, 2012

memories... can be short...

... and that's not bad.

Memories of sunshine, 
just a couple of weeks ago!

Something fairly basic that I'm realizing: children seem to have very short memories. At least sort of. I'm sure there are all sorts of things they'll remember long past when I want them to, but they can sort those out with their therapists in 20 years. What I'm talking about are the memories of how they swore they wouldn't mind skipping dessert if they got to have a cupcake after school, and how they bounce up in a happy mood even though the last thing they said before falling asleep in a puddle of tears is "I hate everyone in this house and family, even Lucy!" and how they can come racing to greet me when I get home even though they were sobbing when I left because they couldn't find anything to wear and they didn't want to go to school "after this day" and they didn't even *like* anybody in this family.

It's wondrous and a great lesson for me as an adult. And it takes some getting used to. I've always admired a good grudge. I even publicly expressed my admiration for Heathcliff during a senior English class in high school while we were reading Wuthering Heights: I said I admired him because he could carry a good grudge.

Which is all fine and good, until you need to forget the tears and recriminations and furious frustrations of 3 hours ago and see the world in all its sunny glory (until the next spate of tears).

I find myself brought up short when I'm still thinking in terms of L or K being upset, and they only have the excitement of telling me what they did in school on their mind.

Uh... didn't you hate me this morning?

Actually, the "I hate you" stuff tends to roll off my back. Maybe because I said that sort of thing when I was a boy? (Though in my defense, I don't *remember* saying anything like that, and luckily, neither does my mother. She also doesn't remember where she put her phone, but that's neither here nor there.) It's more the shift from a black outlook to a rosy one. It throws me off. I expect a particular approach and then, whop!, they've completely reversed direction. And I'm talking about the down-to-up switch. The up-to-down switch seems more to occur in the moment, while I'm there watching, and can be triggered by something as seemingly inconsequential as.... a missing sock, or a pair of leggings that worked fine yesterday but for some reason are sagging today.

All of which is pretty normal in our world, and it's all good. All I need to do to remind myself of how good things are is to swing by their beds after 9pm and look down at their sweet, snoring, snuffly faces. And try
not to think about the odds that in 3 hours I'm going to be up and snuggling with someone for 10 - 60 minutes.

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