As my brain gets mature-er, it becomes more and more forgetful. Or maybe I have so much on my mind, something is bound to get lost in the shuffle. I’d rather go with that idea, but truth be told, this aging thing is happening whether I like it or not. And some forgetfulness I’ve heard is part of the package. So like anything, I must learn to adapt to the changes life throws at me. I don’t mind adapting, in fact, I find it kind of fun to learn new ways to do things. I just don’t like the initial learning curve of drawing complete blanks on things, but that is the motivation, isn’t it? If I didn’t recognize a problem, where would the need to solve it be?
Luckily I have a memory aid in this whole process. And he’s much cuter, funnier, and huggier than a paper and pen to jot down reminder notes on (though I have received this really cool notepad from a friend that has the title “Ta-Da!” that has been helpful in this memory-reviving pursuit). This cuter, funnier, huggier memory jogger is my son, Wil. His memory is a steel trap. What’s kind of funny, but also not (life is full of paradox), is from being an avid country music song lover (and admittedly from his dad having a cold one on a Friday night) Wil has learned to love the word “beer.” Whenever he sees a sign over a bar he reads loudly and proudly, “B-E-E-R! Beer!” At school when they asked him to say a word that starts with “B”, well you know that answer to that one. His paraprofessional texted me his answer to the “B” word with a giggle I guess the “B” word could be worse! So with, Wil, he remembers everything from song words to experiences. I have to really watch what I say. In fact, when he was a baby, my dad sang “You Are My Sunshine” to Wil every time he saw Wil. Wil could sing that song word-for-word in its entirety before he could speak 3 individual words in a sentence.
Back when Wil was about 3-years-old, he would leave things in stores when he got tired and frustrated. Not because he forgot them, but I believe it was some form of rebellion he had control over. We’d be about to leave and he’d yell, “Hat!” And I’d ask him where it was, and he’d walk me to it. And these weren’t small stores. In a Meijer, he’d lead me from the door we were about to exit all the way to the toilet paper aisle in the back. There sitting a-top a 36-ct package of Angel Soft toilet paper would be his hat. Like it was waiting for our arrival. Or we’d weave around the big bags of feed at a Tractor Supply Company, and back behind a large stack, he’d point. I’d almost have to climb up over the stack, to follow his pointer, and there I’d see his hat. He must have tossed it in the air and watched it land at just that exact spot.
I’ve heard of the ability to remember from multiple friends who have kids or family members with Down syndrome. One of my friend’s uncles who has Down syndrome is about my age. He remembers names of acquaintances that those of us with 46 chromosomes would have forgotten about 3 seconds after the handshake. I don’t know the science behind this, but my experience up to this point would tell me it is because our kids, friends and family members with Down syndrome truly value what is important. And when something is deep, down important to us, none of us forget it.
In running a household, there are so many distractions. I do my best to focus on what is important, but oh how those distractions distract thee! Wil and I have this interesting lost and found act going on right now. He remembers everything like it was yesterday, because sometimes it was yesterday: I went to pick up Wil after school. Wil hopped in the car and I decided to put his backpack in the trunk. His sisters were soon to arrive at Wil’s school from their school on the transfer bus. The girls had a friend of theirs coming home with us. Putting Wil’s backpack in the trunk would afford us more room. All went well, loads of giggles in the backseat with three 13-year-old girls. We all unloaded into the house, the girls went to the basement with snacks to play games. I made Wil a snack and he hung out upstairs with me while I made dinner. Soon after, we all headed out, as I took Elizabeth to the track meet, their friend home, and Katherine to CrossFit. This morning, getting everyone ready for school, I was looking all around for Wil’s backpack. I muttered to myself, “Where did I put Wil’s backpack?” I usually unload it then put it back in his room. Wasn’t there. Then, I heard Wil’s voice from the kitchen reply to my mutter, “It’s in the trunk, Mom!” The trunk? And how did he hear me? (Mental reminder: Be very careful what you mutter). Then, ohhhhh yeah….and the memories come flooding back from the years ago that was yesterday after school. (Another mental note: Write down first mental note in “Ta-Da” notebook immediately as you are unlikely to remember first mental note).
Whether it be the missing backpack from yesterday or the missing hat from 9 years ago, Wil remembers both like yesterday. So, with that, my memory issue could be:
A) I am short one chromosome to have a good memory.
B) It really is an age thing.
C) I let the distractions distract me.
I can’t do anything about the chromosomes or the aging, but I can do something about the distractions. This world is really good at throwing distractions at us. This world is not made for us to keep a singular focus on what’s important. It’s so, so easy to get caught up in the noise. But here’s another piece of wisdom Wil shares with me along with his fool-proof memory: when it gets all too loud for him, he puts on his noise-cancelling headphones. Then he can regain his focus and all is right in the world again. Smart kid.
Wil may have cognitive delays, but when it comes down to what’s important, he’s a downright genius! So if you see me wearing a hat, singing my heart out to country music, with ear-cancelling headphones on, don’t think for a second that girl is lost. In fact, I will never be feeling more found in my life! Ta-Da!!!