Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Keeping Memories in a Jar

With Johnny off to school, I have more time to talk to Richie. I mean really talk. Granted, our words make no sense whatsoever, but I like that in a conversation.

Me: So are you excited for fall?

Richie: No.

Me: Why not?

Richie: Because I will fall off of that.

Me: Should we do the United States puzzle today?

Richie: Yeah. Remember when we went there and saw Santa Claus?

Me: To the United States?

Richie: Yeah, we saw Santa Claus at the United States.

Which is true.

Richie: (Gives me a big hug for the tenth time that day.)

Me: Are you going to be a professional hugger when you grow up?

Richie: No, I'm going to be a superhero. What are you going to be when you grow up?

Me: I'm going to be a mommy.

Richie: I'm going to be a mommy, too. And I'm going to take care of J.J. and go to the doctor's office and get another baby and put them on the floor and they can play together.

Richie still thinks that that's how we got J.J. Justin and I drove to the doctor's office and ordered one baby. Extra large. Hold the pickles and collickiness.

Meanwhile, Johnny had his second show and tell at school. My mom was helping him with it because he wanted to show the class her collection of antique African insects. (What? Like you don't have a collection of antique insects.) She brought over a fact sheet about the insects last night so that they could study. (We make our kids study for show and tell.)

"Okay, we'll need copies of this," Johnny told her, holding up the diagram.

He wanted to give his classmates handouts to refer to during the presentation.

During the presentation, he said, "I'm sorry, but I'm going to tell you something really gross. The dung beetle rolls animal poop into a big ball and drops it in the ground. Then the mommy lays eggs in it and the babies eat the poop."

How do I know this? Was I in the room? No, my mom taperecorded the whole thing.

In our family, we document everything. I am determined to be the family that future generations base their historical assumptions on: Mothers were poor housekeepers. Children were entimologists. Babies were giants. Four year olds aspired to be mothers. Fathers drove their vehicles until they were no longer good for anything but backwoods demolition derbies.

Except that I lose everything and I'm sure will lose track of this blog, too, if that's possible.

Well, there will be plenty of other records future people can refer to...photo albums, journals, blogs. From the old days, records always seem so serious. I once read a pioneer diary that went kind of like this:

Monday: Pa bought 14 bushels of wheat. And tobacco.

Tuesday: We shucked corn.

Wednesday: Removed feathers from down mattresses. Washed and dried them.

I always wondered if they looked back at these diaries and said, "Oh my gosh. Do you remember when we removed the feathers from the mattresses? And then we washed them?"

"As I recall, we dried them, too."

They probably didn't have time to write more details than that. Or enough paper. Or maybe they thought other details were unimportant. Getting the work done was the important thing. And if someone got stung by a bee or felt slighted by some comment or was dreaming about something...well, leave that to the novelists to write down. The main thing was, "We shucked the corn."

If I wrote like that, my day would look like this, "Fed the children. Cleaned up. Fed the children. Cleaned up. Fed the children and the husband. Cleaned up. Typed words."

That's the work I did. But it doesn't quite capture the day. Not that the day will stay in captivity forever. Technology changes. Memories fade. Papers blow away. But like a lightening bug you catch in a jar and let go free before you go to sleep, holding the memories for a little while let you believe you're part of something big. I used to imagine that when I set a lightening bug free it flew to the moon and back to my neighbor's yard. The baby hugs and the quirkiness of six-year-olds and the funny four-year-old conversations...those will fly away to somebody else's house some day. But I'm going to keep them in a glass jar for a while.


Anonymous ma said...

Nice blog. Richie's conversations crack me up. I asked if he liked being the big boy at home now that Johnny's gone to school. He said, " I'm biggo than Johnny now and when I have my birthday and he's 22, I will still be biggo". Johnny was so great giving his talk and answering questions with the self assurance of a true entomologist. "This long horned beetle uses his horns to fight and I know they get in some pretty big fights!"

8:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If Richie wants to be a mommy, get him to wash the dishes, clean the house and cook the dinner at least

6:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

as aways, wonderful, Bridge! They are such smart, great boys. I wish we could all be together more!

9:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

as aways, wonderful, Bridge! They are such smart, great boys. I wish we could all be together more!

9:01 AM  

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