Selective Memory

Thursday when it was raining, I decided to let the kids sit outside on the porch, drink hot coco and watch the rain before they started on homework. I often have special activities like that be a reward for good behavior or getting something done, but lately it seems like we don’t ever get to do anything fun because something usually goes wrong and my kids lose the reward.

So on Thursday I decided that we were just going to have fun, no strings attached. I knew it was going to make doing homework harder later, but decided not to care. After the hot coco, the kids had fun depopulating the neighborhood of slugs and snails. They managed to fill a bucket with them. Disgusting. I am thinking of hiring them out as organic snail exterminators.

When it was time to go outside, there was a breakdown from Lady Bug and the kids got in trouble for standing on furniture with their still dirty feet instead of staying on the door mat like I asked them to. I felt bad that the time had been marred by the unpleasant ending.

But the next day Lady Bug’s preschool teacher told me that Lady Bug had told her all about what we did. It touched me that it had been so important to her and that she had chosen to remember only the fun parts. My memory of the experience had been dominated by feeling frustrated that my kids wouldn’t listen even after I had done something fun with them.

It gave me hope that maybe the good times would outshine the bad times in my kids’ lives. That maybe I wasn’t messing things up as bad as I sometimes feel I am. It reminded me that most memories are not 100% pleasant, but I get to choose what I remember. Am I remembering the times that my kids fail, or am I focusing on the good pieces? When my husband gets home from work, do I report all the bad stuff or like my little Lady Bug, do I focus on the good parts? You would think that age and maturity would make me better about forgiving and maintaining perspective, but in some ways I have gotten worse.

Since then I have tried to have a little “no strings attached” fun time with the kids. So Friday I sat and ate their after-school snack with them instead of doing dishes. We chatted and I showed them how I used to burp them as babies. They were laughing so hard they were dying. I have been so busy, that our time has been very well laid out. I have a tendency to be very efficient, but a little bit of unproductive time is good for us.

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