This past week, I was in Tampa visiting my cousin and her family. In the backyard of their house, they have a swing hanging from one of the branches of a tree. Her 3 and 4 year-old daughters insisted I push them on the swing, arguing with each other about who gets to go first and for how long they get to be on the swing. I spent a good amount of time pushing both of them the first day I was there, trying to be fair about splitting up the time between the two and also making sure that both went about the same height as the other kid did.
I couldn’t help but be a bit wistful after that. “Do you think that 20 years from now, they’ll remember that I pushed them on the swings?” I asked my cousin.
“They would remember you more if you pushed them off the swings,” my cousin replied.
I never used to be reflective like that until one time when I was playing with my sister’s youngest daughter when she was two years-old. She was always a bit more independent so I felt honored one day when she wanted to play. We sat in an imaginary car, which I drove after I put on my imaginary seatbelt. I accidentally got out once without making the motion of removing my seatbelt and she got all up in arms about it. Later, we were running around as if we were monsters (her idea). Because I was afraid she’d run into something while running around that fast, I said that we should pretend that we’re robots. I then slowed down, making “robot” motions while saying “I. Am. A. Ro. Bot.” She did the same, turning her head at times to look at me to make sure she was doing it correctly. I had so much fun that day and really felt it was a good session of bonding.
But that was when it hit me: For me, this was such a huge memory but this would most likely be something she’ll never remember when she gets older. That was the first time that kind of thought occurred to me while I was playing/hanging out with the nephews and nieces and it sent me into a pretty sad state.
Ever since then, I’ve been more and more aware of these moments and that something so important to me may mean nothing for my nephews and nieces in the future. I’ve always had it in the back of my mind that maybe I should write out all of these moments to one day send to my all the little ones in my life when they get older. And actually, I really think I will. I want them all to know that I read to them, talked to them in funny voices, kissed ouchies, ran and danced around with them. I want them to know how much they all mean to me, have always meant to me.
My cousin has something cool in place – she already has active email accounts for all of her kids that she sends emails too. One day she’ll give them access to those accounts and they could read everything she’s ever written to them. She gave me their email addresses so now I’ll be able to write to them about this past week and about what an awesome time I had with them. A couple of the moments going into that email – decorating the kids’ room with them and reading “Fuzzy Bear Goes to Bed” for the umpteenth time to all four of my cousin’s kids, her youngest in my lap while the other three kids sat around me. I was completely surprised that all of them stayed still and listened while I read to them.*
I hope to get writing about everything I want soon. Who knows how many moments I have already forgotten myself. I don’t know if the kids will think anything of it when they grow up but I do know that I wish I knew all that had happened when I was little. Reminds me of this Calvin and Hobbes comic:
Calvin: You know what’s weird? I don’t remember much of anything until I was three years old. Half of my life is a complete blank! I must’ve been brainwashed! Good heavens, what kind of sicko would brainwash an infant?! And what did I know that someone wanted me to forget?? Boy, am I mysterious.
Hobbes: I seem to recall you spent most of the time burping up.
May all of the little ones in our lives know how much they mean to all of us, InshAllah.
*I have officially memorized “Fuzzy Bear Goes to Bed” and can even rap it upon request.