The only thing worse than having a child who forgets everything is raising a child who remembers everything. Like many moms, I make a hell of a lot of promises to my children when I’m overly-exhausted, hoping they’ll just get into bed, or get into the car, or not be a pain-in-the-ass when I take them out in public.
My daughter, Rowan, never remembered a thing when she was young. I could literally promise her I would take her to a movie tomorrow and the next day nothing would be mentioned about the movie. I would have to remind her.
‘Oh, okay!’ she’d say excitedly, as if it were a surprise and not an outing we had discussed for almost 20 minutes only 12 hours earlier.
In fact, I once promised her a trip to Disneyland, which I came through with…about two years after the fact, because she never once brought it up. I could have taken her to Wonderland and said, ‘Here we are!’ That’s how much my laid-back daughter gives a hoot, or how much she remembered my promises.
Even now, at age 12, she can be distracted by a squirrel and if I call her cellphone asking where she is on the way home from school, she’ll respond, ‘I was almost home, but then I saw a leaf blowing and it was really pretty so I followed it.’ God bless her. I even have to remind her to come home.
Then there is my son. My four-year-old son remembers every damn thing that comes out of my mouth. To stop tantrums, or to get him to chillax, or stop him from throwing a basketball against the kitchen wall, I’ll promise him that I’ll buy him a Star Wars action figures, or take him to the Lego Store ‘tomorrow’.
And then ‘tomorrow’ as it seems to do every day, arrives. And I’m screwed.
‘Mommy, you said you’d take me to school today,’ he said to me this morning. (Usually, his nanny takes him.)
I looked at him and pondered ‘when?’ When did I promise him I’d take him to school? Ah, yes, when he was having a fit, the previous evening, because he didn’t like the brand of chocolate milk I had bought, and I had to get him to shut up about it. I vaguely remember saying, ‘Just drink it and I’ll take you to school tomorrow.’
These promises usually work. ‘I’ll take you to school tomorrow if you keep your head on the pillow.’ Or, ‘Mommy will go look for those Avengers stickers you wanted if you finish your entire dinner.’ Don’t judge. I’m a mature mother, which means I’m a tired mother, who can’t even remember what I had for breakfast. Plus, these bribes do work. (Or, judge me—I won’t remember!)
The only sad part, for me, is that I know a ‘promise is a promise,’ and I want my son to learn that.
Which is why I often find myself, on the way home from work, stopping off at some toy store, or the Dollar Store, because I’m the idiot mother who promised him a Batman car after exhaustion set in. And, God forbid I walk in the door empty-handed after making a promise, because I will never hear the end of it, and he’s now smart enough to know I’m lying when I say, ‘The store is sleeping right now.’
This kid of mine remembers everything, from trips we have taken more than a year ago, to the time I took him for ice cream months ago, to reminding me that he, ‘has to brush his teeth!’
Honestly, I prefer the kid (my daughter) who remembers nothing, even if I have to remind her, daily, ‘Did you pack all your homework?’ and, ‘You have your tutor today’ to even, ‘Did you remember to brush your hair?’
With my son, otherwise known as My Google Calendar, I am constantly trying to keep up with what I have promised him, or said to him, in either a fit of exhaustion or a fit of, ‘I can’t take this anymore!’
‘You promised I could come with you!’ Or, ‘You promised I could wear this!’ Or, ‘You promised you’d buy (fill in the blank)’ Or, ‘You promise we could go to (fill in the blank)!’
Apparently, I promise A LOT of things I don’t really mean, but alas, have to go through with. Obviously I should be tested for amnesia. Sometimes, you just can’t win as a parent. It’s annoying to have a child who you have to remind to do things constantly. And it’s also annoying to have a child who never forgets anything. Which would you rather have? I promise I won’t tell.
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Why German Parenting is Having a Well-Deserved Moment
In Berlin, almost all children walk to school alone. They use sharp knives to cut their own food and most of them fall asleep in their own beds, by themselves. It would be easy to think of German parenting as being way too hands-off.