For years I operated under the assumption that I threw it out my old favorite baseball glove. I never once considered it an accident, that I simply lost track of it through moving houses and major life events. But when it suddenly reappeared, it proved me wrong about my own worst habits.
Parenting is a constant exercise in finding connections to your own past through your kids, but memory is an untrustworthy thing. Part of what we think we have in common may be nothing more than our kids choosing their own version of the story.
I’d be worried about my qualifications as a parent if I didn’t get choked up at the sight of my three-year-old’s palm preserved for posterity in purple paint on a piece of construction paper. But I’m surprised that my son is showing that same streak of sentimentality already too.
I tried to tout my son’s first baseball glove as a Big Deal. Frankly by the time we got to the store he was more excited about lunch at McDonald’s later, and somehow the day ended in tears.
On my 34th birthday, a friend asked me what it’s like getting older in a big city, but it’s no different than in a small town or the suburbs. It’s about reassessing your own life, but with that comes acknowledging your faults and accepting regret. Aging is about understanding that you still have a lot to learn.
When I was a kid, I assumed my dad took pictures like this expressly to torture me and my sister. Now that I have my own kids I understand why he did this. He needed to take those pictures to remember being there, to make sure it really happened, because our real memory falls apart so quickly.
Who decides what to preserve as the true mementos of childhood? Parents usually do, and it tends to be the easiest things to keep: drawings that can be slipped into a file folder, blankets and stuffed animals that can be shoved in a closet. But what about the random bits and pieces that take up just as much of their attention?