Week 198: Leaves, Standing, and Memory

Ah, autumn. Next to having blandly perfect weather year round (c.f., Southern California) it’s my favorite season. The fall foliage in this part of the country is often spectacular, and raking up leaves provides the perfect opportunity for a gullible child who still can’t discern the difference between playing in the yard and working in it. And kids, you know your dad is into photography when he makes you wait until an hour before sunset when the light is the best to go out and do this sort of thing. Worth it, though, as this is my new favorite picture of Samantha. Her pose is just so natural and relaxed there, so that she really does look more like a little girl than anything like a “toddler.” I think it’s one of those mile marker photos that should probably go in a scrapbook somewhere.

Mandy has been hitting her own milestones, too, such as pulling herself up into a standing position without intervention from humans, animals, or robots programmed to assist with child rearing but never really taught to love. I’m not sure how we got to this point, but it has resulted in Mandy’s community becoming a gated one, with blockades across all dangerous paths. The problem is that Sam isn’t able to open and close the gates herself, so we’re constantly on ferry duty, lifting her back and forth over the gates so that she can go to the bathroom or retrieve some toy she deliberately threw over there just because she thinks this is some kind of game.

One thing I’ve noticed with Sam is that she’s now gotten old enough to remember stuff, and then forget it. A simple exercise in memory diving on my own part is sufficient to remind me that none of us recalls the details of our youngest years. The earliest memory I can currently dredge up is a fuzzy one of my walking through the living room of our house in Oklahoma City and talking to my Dad about some books with weird covers that were on the bookshelf. But that’s it. Everything before that is gone, as is a fair amount of stuff since, such as some thing that Geralyn said she was going to go to some night this week and could I please be home from work in time to watch the kids while she gets ready?

Anyway, Sam has begun to forget going places and doing things when she was younger. The other day I took her to a kids museum that she had fun with once, and she claimed to have never been there. Or there was the other time I talked to her about something we had seen in the San Diego Zoo, and she looked at me like I was trying to screw with her and she was totally on to me, man. Even if I show her photographic proof that she WAS there, she remains skeptical.

In a way, I feel like this is a total rip-off. I mean come on! I spend all this time with her and teach her all these things and she doesn’t remember it just because that’s the way the brain works for some reason? Should I have just stayed home that day and sat her in front of the TV if she’s not going to remember all this superlative parenting action going on over here?

The answer, of course, is “No,” as in “No, you moron, why would you even think that?” Sam may not recall it, but she (and Mandy, for that matter) got benefits out of all of those activities. It may not affect her memory, but I’m sure it affected (for better or worse) her development, her personality, and her long-term relationship with me and Geralyn. And, of course, the answer to the problem of the memory hole is simple: In the future I will have her read and memorize this blog. Any time she asks for anything, she will be subjected to a pop quiz drawn from a databank of several thousand multiple choice questions relating to previous blog entries.

So, I hope she studies hard. Because we’re not going back to the zoo until she tells me everything about it.

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