My grown son sat on the couch yesterday afternoon riffling through his grade-school box of art, writing, pictures and report cards. One piece from grade 1 was particularly amusing.
The task was to write three rules for parents. Vince wrote these three:
1. Do not merder your child.
2. Do not beat your child up.
3. Do not be late for wurk.
What would a psycho-therapist make of this? I choose to believe that this is a kid who did not even know the low level violence of angry parents. Our home was pretty happy and creative when he was a kid.
In the box were other treasures. Stories about a monster and his pet turtle. Lots of brightly colored drawings of our green house with a Canadian flag flying on a pole in front.
And tales of hamster funerals. We had more than our share. Perhaps one of his rules should be, "Parents should not murder hamsters." It was always an accident of course. But none of our hamsters died of old age. I would take them out for a walk - since I can't stand to see animals in cages - and then things would happen. I could write a book series on the adventures of hamsters.
One journal entry from grade 2 made me laugh. Vince was hoping to win the 'neat nut.' I had to think a while to remember what the neat nut was. Okay - see who can remember this. The neat nut was a Gospel Walnut! You pull a little hook and out come the five or six colors that are supposed to reveal the gospel story: black, red, green, white, yellow... I was personally appalled at the whole cheesy idea of a gospel walnut, so I dubbed it the neat nut, prize for the tidiest room each day. Apparently it worked - Vince was motivated to win it.
Memories matter. But they are slippery. Most of what we discovered in this box I had forgotten. The work of remembering is spiritual work. And it is profoundly human work. I remembered who I am, listening to Vincent talk about his childhood views of our life together. And I loved him freshly.
p.s Our son Ben recieved his first note written by his son Blaise - emergent literacy! It said this, "I Um gowy tw cut YoR Hud off. Fum BLaise" to which I can only reply, "ARGH Matey!"