Monday, November 21, 2011

Tell Me About My Life

My mom and I were together recently, sharing anecdotes about the children in our family and circle of friends. It’s no secret that kids are wondrous forms of entertainment. They say silly things, do silly things, have powerful observational skills, and never edit themselves. Kids have a never-fail recipe for comedy.

My children were listening to us giggle over who said what, who did what, who learned a new word or gesture. We went on and on, and at a pause in the conversation, the kids piped, “Tell us some of the things we did that are funny.”

We hesitated. My mind went blank with the pressure of an on-the-spot demand for a story about their early shenanigans.

I’ve got hundreds of stories, thousands of memories. But most of them are fleeting, snippets of a time we went to an amusement park, the time one of them got a minor injury.

They know the story of when our son called his sister a “brave little soldier” when she was a baby getting a shot at the pediatrician, how our daughter painted herself with a dark burgundy lipstick. They have laughed at the stories we have told them in the past. This time, I had a hard time coming up with new material.

I don’t want to tell them about when mommy was so overwhelmed with taking care of two babies at home that she called daddy at work and demanded his presence IMMEDIATELY. They don’t want to hear about how she and daddy argued over whose turn it was to change the next diaper.

My Facebook wall testifies about the funny stuff my kids do and say. But those memories are recent. The memories of the kids when they were small and totally dependent are foggy, like they existed in a dream or only for a short time. I’d like to see those times again, but not many of these dream-state memory scraps are captured on video or film. The memories emerge when I’m in a familiar place, or when I find a long-lost photo in the back of a picture frame.

When new parents share stories about their kids, they are often encouraged to write them down, to preserve them. The smart ones who recognize that they may want to relive these precious moments – these people will record daily memories. They understand that memories come so fast that they will never be able to remember them all.

And when they hear, “tell a story about me,” they will have a memory to share that hasn’t been warmed up countless times, a new memory to be passed on to laugh about and to cherish.



  1. Well, for what it's worth, children are tireless narcissists who never bore of hearing stories of themselves. I know this because I am a child myself. I'm sure no matter how many stories you wrote down, they'd want more.

  2. I am TERRIBLE about writing things down. I did semi-okay (not even fantastic) with a baby book for Kate, and it was all down hill after that. I'm not sure Luke even HAS one, and if he does, I don't think there's a single thing written in it...!

  3. Children ARE narcissists. And mine are certainly tireless. Yet somehow, they manage to make me feel inadequate with my storytelling abilities. I'm going to start telling fairy tales in place of actual events to keep things interesting (Remember when you barely escaped that witch who was fattening you up to eat you? Boy, mommy was really worried that day!!)