It’s been a long time since we’ve been involved in our daughter’s homework. By sixth grade, her math was so far over my head I had to jump, and with the rest she’s been on her own for ages. Other than a few flash card practices before tests, we’ve let her be. Last night though, her psychology homework required her to interview us over the dinner table. I should have smelled a rat. Over the fruit crisp I had fashioned out of apples too long ignored, she pulled out a questionnaire.
“Are you ready?” she asked, shuffling her pages. “How old was I when I first smiled at you?”
“Gosh Megs,” I replied. “I don’t remember that. Seems to me you were always smiling.”
“OK, then how about this one? How old was I when I first raised my head.” My husband and I looked at each other. “Are you kidding?”
“Well, do you remember when I first crawled? How about the first time I sat unaided?”
More clueless glances between parents. The big letter “L” for loser began to surface on Tim's forehead; a fat “F” for failure emerged on mine.
“When did I first grasp something? When was the first time I stood up?” “When was the first time I walked?”
“Oh, I know! I know that one!” I shouted. “It happened before you were one.” You were walking all around on your first birthday!”
“Yea, but when? When before my first birthday?”
Thanks, Mr. Psychology Teacher. Just because your kids are young and you still have brain cells, since when does that mean we need homework? With a big sigh, I said to her, “How does he expect anyone to remember that? It was sixteen years ago and by the way, we were sleep deprived. We'll have to look in the box on the top of the closet; the one with all your baby memories in it.” She looked mystified until I explained. “There's a “Baby’s First Year” calendar in there. I wrote everything in it.”
Unfortunately, her firsts weren’t the only memories short circuiting. Mr. Six-Foot-Four checked the tops of all the closets to no avail, after which thank goodness, one vague recollection did surface. Feeling more um, gratitude toward the psych teacher, his student and I crawled behind the walls to the unfinished, spider filled portion of the basement. Tripping on the yard sale collection that’s encroaching on everything else, we reached a pallet stacked with items that my husband and I can’t seem to part with--a ceramic baby lamp made for our future child by his grandmother before she passed away, a high chair we figure could come in handy sometime. Beside a doll crib stenciled by her grandmother, sat a clear plastic tote, on which, in block print were the words, “Meghann’s Memories, 1993-2001. DO NOT THROW AWAY.”
Hauling it upstairs we opened it and found other irreplaceable objects--a sweater knit by the same great-grandmother--a plastic bear that came home with our baby from the hospital--a second grade booklet she wrote called: “The Best Day of My Life” (Disney World—first grade) and yes, big sigh of relief, the calendar. Turning the pages, we discovered that she first smiled at six weeks and grasped a rattle at two months. Our little Einstein rolled over and sat alone at four months and took her first step six weeks before her first birthday.
Oh, and in case you wondered, Mr. Psychology, there’s also the first bath, first visit to the doctor, her first ear infection, first rollover and first sleep through the night. Turning the pages we noted her first solid food and her first trip out of state--also recorded: her first major illness (Chicken Pox) which popped out on my first Mother’s Day. We have her first hand clap, her first crawl, her first trip to McDonald’s (French fries only). There’s the first time she “sang” in church--burping for the finale; the first time she said “Dadda” and the first time she chirped “Mama,” (the day before the Chicken Pox arrived.) In all, with these crib notes and the rest of the plastic box, her firsts are fairly well covered. Though come to think of it the rest of her life has continued to be filled with them.
Dubious letters of the alphabet may have faded from our respective foreheads, but before any more family psychology assignments are due, my husband and I need to figure out where we stashed “Meghann’s memories, 2002 to present.”