Whine: Big Sis has decided the (pre)school year should end in April. What started with a simple case of I-forgot-to-give-Mommy-a-goodbye-kiss tears last week in class has blossomed into a full scale meltdown. Her crying jag this morning started before she even got out of bed.
Cheese: She actually likes school. So as much as it causes me physical pain to drop her off with those red, puffy eyes dolefully stabbing tiny daggers into my heart, I know that as soon as I round the corner out of sight, she’ll be ok. Her sweet teachers will give her as many hugs as it takes. Her friends will wave excitedly and draft her into the playground battle against the Evil Boys. Plus, I’ve got an ace up my sleeve–I put chocolate pudding in her lunch. It’s hard to be melancholy while eating chocolate pudding (trust me.)
You know those people who are at significant family events and just as the action is getting good and the camera lenses start snapping, they are in the corner furiously making room on their memory cards and missing the actual event?
Those people drive me crazy.
But a few weeks ago I was one of Those People. I blame my new computer, it’s photo storage-thing-a-ma-bobby is very confusing and so I had not been erasing pictures as I went along. And for our family, March is birthday season, so there were cakes, cakes, cakes and parties and presents and whatnot to photograph. I’m a little bit of a Memory Hoarder, which means that I had approximately 1, 374 pictures of Brother Bear eating his first bites of chocolate birthday cake. (So sweet, yet so disgusting.) Finally, I decided to get it over with and unload my pictures/memory card.
Well, due to a very scientific process called User Error, I managed to swipe that card clean. Except that the pictures I had swiped off hadn’t actually been moved to the computer yet, and therefore no longer existed in the history of the world. Which means that none of it ever happened. Lil’ Sis had never had a Rapunzel party and turned three. Brother Bear certainly hadn’t turned one. Because without the pictures, there’s no proof. No memory.
My stomach lurched, and I started spewing incoherent epithets at the evil trolls who live in my computer waiting for me do dumb stuff (it’s not a long wait). Big Sis was hovering nearby and trying to distract me by pecking me to death with questions and requests. I can honestly say that I regarded her with calm composure as I told her to GIVE MOMMY A MINUTE PLEASE BECAUSE I AM THE STUPIDEST PERSON ON EARTH SO PLEASE STOP ASKING FOR CHOCOLATE MILK RIGHT NOW. (SOB)
In that moment, I did the smartest thing I could do. I put the camera away. Didn’t touch it, didn’t use it. But banished it to the top bookshelf so it could think about what it had done.
I spent the day berating myself (and the evil trolls, of course), but managed to come back to my senses by day’s end. The thought of never getting to revisit those precious birthday faces (and the cakes, oh, the cakes!) made me sad, but I realized that mourning over memories to the exclusion of the actual, living people in the pictures was somehow ironic. And kinda stupid.
So I moved on.
But then, a few weeks later, I had an idea. (Cue lightbulb.) Call it denial, call it genius, it doesn’t matter. I googled my little fingers off and discovered that there are really briliant, benevolent people in the world who expect people like me to do really dumb stuff, and they have designed good trolls, who can go root around and find your lost/erased/destroyed pictures and bring them back. Oh how I love benevolent geeks.
I got my precious pictures back. And what kills me with gratitude is that I didn’t just get the big moments back. The chocolate-smeared hair, the twinkly princess festivities. I got back the ones I didn’t even remember were there. Like Big Sis’ first (successful) ride on her bike. And Mr. Dad giving Valentine’s roses to his girls amidst an avalanche of smooches.
When I had kids, everybody warned me how fast they grow up, and this is true. But what no one prepared me for was the forgetting.
As my little sweeties jump at warp-speed to the next stage, I barely remember the one we just left. It’s hard to focus my minds-eye on what they looked like then, what little things they did to crack us up, how much they’ve changed. And I think that’s why I hold so tightly to my pictures (as poorly-focused and full of accidental thumbs as they are) and to this blog, because as young as my kids still are, I’ve already forgotten so much.
But I comfort myself in the idea that even the memories that seem ‘forgotten’ have woven themselves into the patchwork of our family story. That most of the memories are good ones. And when my kids and I look back, we’ll see ourselves, albeit through a somewhat-fuzzy lens, as a family that loved. So I guess if there’s a sequel to this movie (Evil Trolls II: Revenge of the Hungry Trolls) and I lose all my pictures (and heaven forbid, blog posts) I can grieve my losses and move on. Right after I kick some serious troll booty.
I will post two of the recovered pictures today. But come back on Thursday for the follow-up picture post. (Hint: there will be pictures of cake! And chocolate-covered baby!)
Every thorn has its rose(s).
Brother Bear's Get Out of Jail Free Card. Because who can resist a baby in a tie?