Wednesday, August 7, 2013

My Rememberer's Broken!

30 years multiplied by an average of 100 children in a grade level equals 3,000 names.  There was a time when I was pretty sure I knew at least half of those very well.  This last year of teaching was my worst performance ever.  I DIDN'T have every cute, little face connected to the correct name by the end of the first day; it was close, but I wasn't 100% accurate.  It was symbolic of things to come.

As the school year went on, I continued to struggle with Bo and Jett, and Brailey and Brooklyn.  In my defense, the boys were both handsome, tall athletes, and the girls were darling, with long, dark hair and cute glasses.  BUT I STRUGGLED; oh, how I struggled.  It was a class joke that I could never get names right. Sometimes I wondered if I were going crazy. If my students only knew; it's even worse at home.

Who am I, Mom?  She gets it right MOST of the time.
At home?  I admit it; I get names mixed up there, too.  Maybe it's genetic.  My grandma called me Ann or Joan, her daughters' names.  My mom called me Ann, and she called me Joelle, MY sister's name.  Maybe it's just a mom thing.  Maybe all moms pick a random name of someone in the family, and hope it works in the given situation.

Last week, I sent my children a message on Facebook.  It went like this...

Me:'s time for a reality check.  If you've read my blog, you know I like to reminisce...and you are what I reminisce about the most.  Would you be more comfortable if I ran my posts by you BEFORE I publish them?  You also have the right to tell me not to write about you.  Think about it. Tell me what I need to do to respect YOUR needs. I love you all. I love to write.  You are my passion so it's easiest to write about you.  But I will explore other avenues for my material if you need me to do that.  Please let me know.

Sierra:  Post away! Just don't expose details about my sex change

And your new you.
And you do realize that sex change comment will be in my blog, don't you?

Sierra:  That is fine with me.  (To this comment she attached a small cartoon of an egg and bacon walking hand in hand.  I didn't get it either.)

Dylan:  Should I be worried about what you're getting ready to post?

Me:  No!!! Now that you can see WHAT I write about...are you okay if it continues?

We talked about it later at Dylan and Jamie's.  Bridge would like me to run things by him first, if there is ANY question in my mind he might not approve, but other than that, everyone was supportive.  I'm so glad.  What would I write about if I didn't write about them?  Those kids are my life.  I'm thrilled they've even bothered to read my blog occasionally.

My children have inherited my spelling and grammar genes.  It's like a game for us to see who can find mistakes first.  We take pictures of signs with misspelled words and send them to each other.  We delight in our evil little word games.  This has come back to bite me on the butt.  They find delight in discovering MY errors even more. I hate getting mixed up because I know how important details are.  Stories are better with accurate names and details, AND correct spelling and grammar.  

I've been an avid scrapbooker for decades.  Last year I made a large one for Mark and me.  I had chronicled our year together with some of my favorite pictures and a little journaling.  Sierra was sitting in the recliner looking at the 12 x 12 book.  "WHO played football this year?"

Oh, no.  I couldn't have. NOT IN PRINT.  NOT PUBLISHED.  "Bridger played football," I said weakly.

"That's what I thought."  She was baiting me.

Allow me to redeem myself.  THIS number 78 is BRIDGER.
Dylan was 78, too.  They do things like this to torment me.
"Sierra, what did I put?  What did I do this time?"  I stood behind her to get a closer look.  There in black and white print on our record of family history, it stated:  "Dylan played offense AND defense for South Sevier as a freshman."  NOT IN THE SCRAPBOOK!!!  It was a true statement ten years ago.  Dylan did play.  This was the MOST RECENT family scrapbook, and the corresponding picture was of BRIDGER, who ALSO played offense and defense.  Oh, this mom can't catch a break.

Monday afternoon in Cannonville, we were getting our seat belts buckled before we drove back home.  "I enjoyed talking to Mr. Fredrick," I told Bridger as we pulled away from his friend's house Monday afternoon.  

"Fletcher.  It's Mr. Fletcher, Mom."

"WHATEVER. I enjoyed meeting him."  At least I got the F in his first name.  Yes, I was a "partial credit" kind of teacher. 

One of my latest OCD activities is proofreading my blog.  Heaven help us if we're on a trip, and I find a mistake on a published piece.  Once I made Bridger find us a McDonald's in Vail, Colorado so I could connect to the internet and edit several errors in what I'd posted that morning.  

When my own children find the mistakes before I do, I am conflicted with emotions.  Good eye, I congratulate them.  I have raised critical editors, and I am very proud.  GIVE ME A BREAK! I want to scream, but I don't.  I usually thank them because honestly, it's better that loved ones help me correct the mistakes than the grammar Nazis who live on the World Wide Web, looking for errors to correct!  (I should know; I am one of them.)

Last weekend we had so much fun visiting in Saint George with Dylan and Jamie, my oldest and
his wife.  I had tried to jot down some of the hilarious, off-the-wall things Dylan constantly says so I could share with his sister and my sister Natalie.  Our family is so close, and I knew the girls would love to be a part of the hilarity.  I was recording some of our bizarre conversations "live," typing things up on my computer as fast as I could, at times.  With enough stories to write a book, I decided to share a couple of choice moments here on my Randomocity page in my Sunday morning post.

I received a text from Sierra Sunday afternoon.  "Do you HAVE a 24 year old son?"  Oh, brother.  I'd done it again.  See, sometimes I try to AVOID overusing names, and particularly MISUSING names, by substituting a phrase to identify one of my children.  "My 24 year old son" seemed like a good substitution for Dylan. I had used an AGE instead of a name. Unfortunately, I used my daughter's upcoming age instead of my son's.  Dylan is 26; Sierra WILL BE 24.  I hurriedly corrected my mistake on my blog before the boys saw it.  Later that night, I confessed my sin. Dylan said to be sure to tell her that was in reference to her recent sex-change operation.  

I wish my mind were sharp, full of crisp details.  I spend half of my writing time verifying names on Facebook or Google, or checking with my kids for accurate information.  Maybe I should start intentionally calling everyone a pet name.  The SAME pet name.  As it is, I constantly call the boys each other's names; I even call our dog Bridger sometimes.  

A friend of mine did the universal nickname thing.  She called her first husband "Muffin."  When she remarried, she called the second one "Muffin," too.  She didn't want to hassle with accidentally calling the new one the old one's name.  Dr. Seuss was on to something with Thing 1 and Thing 2.  Hmmm....I'll have to think on this.  

The only way I was ever successful at school is by requiring name tags the first day and desk name plates for the year.  I did rely on them during particularly foggy brain moments.  Perhaps this year for Christmas I will give each of the kids personalized jewelry, and require they wear the jewelry in my presence.  With the growing tattoo trend, perhaps they would consider forehead tattoos to help this aging mama keep them straight.  I gave these children life.  I even gave them the very names I can't seem to keep straight.

We're going to have to do something.  This doesn't seem to be getting any better, and if anything, it is only getting worse.  I try to laugh about it, but honestly, this scares me.  I have awful memories of visiting my great-grandma in the nursing home.  That facility reeked of urine and medicine, and the halls were filled with old people tied into wheelchairs whose gnarled fingers stretched toward me as I scurried to keep up with my mom.  Mom's grandmother spoke to us in German, and kept calling my mom names other than her own.  Great Grandma Engelhard was in a constant state of confusion with her dementia during the last years of her life.  I keep wondering, is this how it starts?  Oh, I do hope this is just something every mom experiences.  But I can't help but worry...

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