The boys that live in my house are Indiana Jones, whip crack, fast and accurate when it come to rattling off sports team stats, various imaginary character card game attack and defence points and always seem to be 1 minute early to attend the "cookies out of the oven" event in the kitchen.
But when it comes to...oh I dunno...insert in here anything that has to do with household help, finding something that is not actually sitting in their hands or recognizing that the a sink drain full of wet pasta noodles, half a soggy meatballs and the crust from your garlic bread does NOT mean you are done cleaning up the kitchen, the blank stares that greet my raised eyebrow and critical gaze convince me that zombies ARE real and the Walking Dead might just be a documentary.
Bits of things that would help them each day fall off them like decaying fingers. Pack my lunch--plop. Tell mom about school event and note that needs to be signed--plop. Homework--plop. Feed dogs --plop. Need school supplies --plop. Left water bottle at school--plop.
In my OWN version of brainlessness, I trudge around with my Momery basket under one arm, picking up allthe discarded fingers, in some insane hope that I can reattach them.
I never seem to be able to get there though---my main priority being that they get collected so that whatever it is they represent, won't be forgotten.
Sounds like a problem right? A pretty gross problem.
And here's where it gets worse.
Instead of trying to reattach the rotting digits, I stand evening and morning and pull them one by one, out of my the Momery basket to tick off the reminder each one stood for.
Do you have homework?
Did you eat your lunch?
Have you made your lunch for tomorrow?
Did you feed the dogs?
What is on for the rest of this week after school?
Did you write your school events on the calendar?
Are there any forms or notes or things I need to sign in your bag?
Why have you not done your chores?
Are your gym clothes in the wash yet?
and so on...
The challenge in all this is that while I hold the basket and continue to try to match up fingers with owners and reminders....my own ten fingers are trying to remind me:
Make something healthy for lunch for tomorrow.
Thaw out something for dinner.
Make appt for dogs at the vet.
Get to bank.
Return coat that does not fit.
Get to gym.
Check on work updates.
Remind everyone of all their important stuff that they don't find important enough to remember.
People are only supposed to have ten fingers. Most memory research indicates at best, we LIVE humans can keep only UP TO seven items readily available in our short term memory for temporary recall and so between the three extra fingers I have of my own, I am carrying around a basket of other people's "things to do".
And, short term memory will quickly disappear forever unless you make a conscious effort to retain it---which is the first step into moving it into our long term memory. One key factor in the shift to long term memory is motivation. Subjects of strong interest to a person are more likely to be retained --which explains the sports scores and fictional evolving creature card game stats.
The boys are motivated by television, sports, video games and snacks--that is like four fingers--and really, it is NO fingers because they have moved those into long term memory. I NEVER have to ask, "Did you play video games today?"
So while I do so love to point out the shortcomings of others.... I can now see how I have somehow linked my self-worth to reMOMBERING everything for everyone else.
Like Youngest. He is 11 and often forgets parts of his lunch, drink, shoes, hat, and backpack, etc. And so while I am trying to remember my phone, laptop, lunch, agenda for the day, where my keys are, to let the dogs out, and in--I also try dig through the discarded finger basket to identify the things he has dropped from his memory because he knows I will pick them up and keep them safe.
Each morning I run the list:
Got your lunch?
YES you need a scarf. I don't care if you don't think it is cold out. You are 11 and not the best judge of anything.
No it is not just my "opinion"! It is -29 outside. THAT is cold. Get a scarf.
That is not a scarf ---that is your hand. GET A SCARF!
This gives me false sense of victory.
I am a good mom. My child will arrive at school warm and well fed and everyone will notice how well I "Mom" him and will realize I am amazing.
I get so self-congratulatory, I totally forget my laptop, phone and lunch and have to dig for change under the floor mats in the drive through to scrape up enough change for a small coffee--three sugar---I need something to get me through the day with no lunch.
The worst part is when something does get forgotten, but then somehow I drops into my head.....I HAVE A DENTIST APPOINTMENT THIS MORNING AND YOU ALMOST DROVE TO WORK AND FORGOT! My vision blurs in an adrenalin surge of ANXIETY.
I had everything together today! I remembered it all! How could this happen!
It seems that since short term memory will be wiped out unless you refresh it or move it, I am constantly going through the Momery basket to tick off the ever changing list of things that need to be remembered for someone else. Nevermind gross, it's exhausting.
Since this discovery I have tried lists, calendars, phone alerts, dictating action, collaborating with the kids on solutions together and trying to find a way to keep myself from berating myself when something falls through the holes in the basket as inevitably, it does.
Some plans have worked - youngest has created a list of things to remember in the morning and has posted it on the door he leaves through so he can check it (if he remembers to look) on his way out and grab what he forgot. He has also set an alarm on his phone to remember to call me at work when he gets home so I don't drive home in panic because his phone is charging or he is wrapped up in a game ....again...because I have done that at LEAST once for EVERY person in this house.
Oldest is 20 and I can't go undo all the Momery business I did as a single mother who smothered her only child. I broke him so I give him some leeway but he is also 20 and so the consequences are his and he is getting better at managing them. He has also mentioned several times about how I was right about many things when he was younger---this assuages my guilt for smothering.
Middle is 16 and at that age ...well, he just moved in with us a year ago...I don't have the strength for that battle.
My hope rests with youngest. We have good conversations. We support each other when things don't work out and since we both forget stuff --we are trying things like - oh well - what can we do next time that will help us remember.
As usual, it is a Work in Progress.....