Late Night Adventures and Little Girl Kisses

There’s no better opportunity for sharing random memories than a 15-hour road trip, and nobody better to hear them from than my mother.  So this one is hers.

“One night, when I was about 5 or 6, a couple of years after my Daddy died, I was mad at Mama about something. I guess I had gotten in trouble or something — I don’t remember, and I doubt she even remembers this — but anyway, I was mad and wouldn’t kiss her goodnight.  But after I had gone to my room in a huff, I looked out the window and saw the flashing red and blue lights of a police car down the road.  I guess I kind of forgot that I was mad, and I called her in to come look.  She asked if I wanted to drive down the road to see what it was.  [My older sisters] were already in bed, so we left them at the house and went on a little adventure, just the two of us.  I don’t remember if it was a car accident or what, I just remember that we had our little adventure and that when we got back I gave her a goodnight kiss, and all was right again in my little world.”

It reminded me of one of my own earliest memories, when Mother was already aggravated with me and I was supposed to be in bed.  I called her from my bedroom for probably the 2378th time, and she marched in threatening to punish me if I didn’t go to sleep.  Tears welled up in my eyes.  “But Mama, you don’t understand…see, there’s a bunny in the yard, and it’s hopping closer and closer to my window.”  She immediately softened and came to look out the window with me, exclaiming in delight.  At least, that’s how I heard it.  It occurs to me now that she was probably still really annoyed and not at all interested by the bunny, but she pretended to be interested, and I beamed with the pride of sharing my discovery.  I wasn’t punished, and I gave her a kiss goodnight, and I went to sleep happy.

My grandmother doesn’t remember driving down the road to look at police lights, and my mother doesn’t remember the bunny-watching.  So I can’t say why these memories stick out so vividly for us, except that perhaps while bunnies and police lights are meaningless, it’s those little (yet oh-so-big) moments of validation that define our sense of self.  It’s the fact that our mothers, our role models, were willing to pause their important adult lives and be fascinated alongside us.

What is of little consequence to you, may be one of those snapshot moments your child remembers forever.  So remember to slow down enough today to make memories.  Take your child out for ice cream and ruin his dinner.  Stay up late playing and having big girl time while your youngest is in bed.  Think twice before time-out and show a little unexpected grace.

And don’t forget a goodnight kiss.


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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Sweet–and true: it’s often the little things that are remembered. I remember, and it had to be more than 60 years ago, my mom showing my sister and me how to make clothes by “sewing” large leaves together using their stems. The “clothes” barely held together long enough for us to carefully get them on, but like you said: it was the fact that she was taking the time to show us–actually something unusual for my mom. I’m sure that’s why it was a happy “moment” and one I remembered.

  2. I’m almost scared to think about what my daughters will remember when they’re older. “Remember that time I couldn’t sleep and I stuck my finger in my butt? And then before you could realize what was happening I shoved it in your face and told you to smell it?” Thats what I get when I try to show unexpected grace. Unexpected poo fingers in my face.

  3. As I thought about your story while preparing dinner, I was reminded of a story you have probably heard before. It is the story of a father and a little boy responding to the same fishing experience. It went something like—–Father: Most boring day ever! My grandson and I sat on the bank of the river all morning long and never got even a bite! Little boy recalling the same morning: Best day of my life! I got to spend the morning on the banks of the river fishing with my Grand-pa! (Hope I didn’t butcher the story too badly; you get the point! Time spent with children is not wasted time; rather it’s priceless!)

  4. I don’t know how to correct my post. It should have read “Grandfather” instead of “Father.” At least that’s how I remember the story.

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