12 Things I Hope My Kids Remember (And 12 Things I Hope They Don’t)

by Leigh Anderson
Originally Published: 
family photos
Falcona / Shutterstock

Children’s memories are weird. They’ll forever remember something that happened when they were 2 but can’t seem to recall where they set their backpacks 20 minutes ago. My 5-year-old son frequently references the brownies Daddy burned two years ago but has no recollection of the dozens of batches made since. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could pick and choose which memories they’ll retain? Like, they’ll keep the bedtime stories but lose the rushed, irritable sprinting for the school bus? Below, 12 things I hope my kids will remember (and 12 things I hope they’ll forget).

1. The fun trips to the park, in which I remembered the water bottles, snacks, diapers and changes of clothes, and we had a lovely time. (And not the time one kid ran one way and the other kid ran the other, but both toward the street, and I ran screaming and swearing after them and then stuffed them in the car, still swearing, and burned rubber getting home.)

2. The days we walked to school hand in hand, cheerfully discussing the changing colors of the leaves. (And not the day I stood in the hallway shouting PUT ON YOUR ^&%$ing SHOES OR I WILL THROW THEM ALL AWAY.)

3. The time the 3-year-old knocked over the humidifier, and I said mildly, “That’s OK, accidents happen.” (And not the time he knocked over the humidifier, and I shouted, “OH, FOR GOD’S SAKE,” and he burst into tears and whimpered, “It was an accident,” and I felt like I was being stabbed in the heart.)

4. That one time my hair was brushed, and my pants matched my shirt. (And not the thousands of time I scrambled eggs in my underwear and wondered if I’d brushed my teeth yet.)

5. The times I tenderly kissed minor boo-boos and fastened superhero Band-Aids over the mildest of scrapes. (And not the time I told him to “shake it off” when he had a broken ankle.)

6. The grilled cheeses with the crusts cut off, the PB&Js in the shape of Mickey Mouse, and the pancakes poured in the shape of the Eiffel Tower. (And not the dinners of cheese sticks and oatmeal we had because I forgot to grocery shop before a hurricane or just forgot to shop, period.)

7. The time I was on the phone researching enrichment activities for the kids. (And not the, uh, nine million times I was looking at Twitter.)

8. The (okay, only one) time I packed all the lunches and signed all the slips and set out all the clothes the night before. (And not the several thousand times we’ve run out the door 20 minutes late, still chewing breakfast.)

9. All the times I remembered the lunches. (And not the times I turned around halfway to school, swearing all the while, to retrieve the forgotten lunches.)

10. The Thanksgivings in which we had a beautifully set table, plentiful and elaborate side dishes and perfectly cooked turkeys. (And not the Thanksgiving when we had all that, except no turkey because the f&*ker never thawed.)

11. The nights I read Blueberries for Sal all the way through, despite the pint of ice cream and episode of Scandal calling my name. (And not the nights that I sped through an abridged version of Brown Bear, Brown Bear in 30 seconds flat.)

12. The Halloween I sewed the ninja/pirate/spider costume and walked door to door with my son for three hours. (And not the year I wrapped him in duct tape, called it a robot costume and told him to be home by dark.)

So that is my mother’s wish: Please remember the fun times, the good times, the times I was at my best—and not the times I flipped off someone in traffic. And not all the times we were late. And not all the batches of brownies that burned.

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