The Horrifying Memory of a Four Year Old

I have no way of knowing if this ‘gift’ exists in all children, I only have two, and only one of them can talk yet. But The Narrator has an uncanny ability to remember some of the most amazing things. It absolutely astounds me on a regular basis.

Fall, 2013. My parents had just moved into their new house and we were over to visit. My father is an avid model train enthusiast, and The Narrator was sitting on the couch with him as they browsed one of his magazines that had come in the mail. The two of them were looking over locomotives that my father was considering getting for his layout. Some time later, I had stopped over with my son for something quick. My sister, on a whim, asked him “What train do you think grandpa will like for Christmas?” Without hesitation, The Narrator flipped to one of the pages in the magazine, and pointed out the one that my father had apparently liked best. “Are you sure?” He was sure. And he was right. For Christmas, my father got a brand new HO scale locomotive that he had really only told my son about. The boy was three at the time, and was able to recall specifically something that had been told to him in passing.

Yesterday, We were sitting at the dinner table waiting for the boys to finish their meal. While we waited, I decided it was time to clean out my wallet. The accumulated junk must get dumped out periodically, or I’ll never be able to find what I need. As I emptied, buried deep in one of the slots, I find two bent purple ticket stubs. I take them out and put them on the table.
“The monster trucks!” – came the cheerful twitter from The Narrator, sitting next to me. Sure enough, they were the stubs from the tickets I bought when I took him to  see the monster  trucks after I finished my 6 month training course for the new job…..EIGHT MONTHS AGO. Not only that, but the stubs were visible for all of….two minutes. We picked the tickets up at the window, walked 20 feet to the gate, had them torn and the stubs returned, and they went in my pocket, never to be seen again. To be honest, I’m not even sure how they ended up in the wallet.

This terrifies me to no end. My parenting experience is rife with mistakes, errors, and moments where I have honest-to-God FAILED as a parent. Is he remembering this? Is he going to be able to recall every one of my failings when he gets old enough to make a decision as to how I did as a father? I do, of course realize that he is only four, and there’s not a lot for him to have wedged into his head yet, but such minute details of things have a tendency to stick in his brain, what is he going to be able to remember later on? What I’m hoping, is that one or two of you, my fair readers, will comfort me with the knowledge that all young children possess this uncanny ability to horrify us with their memory, and that later on they’ll become actually human like the rest of us, and need a constant reminder for such simple things as putting on pants.
On the upshot, I have used his magnificent mind to my advantage a few times. Just the other day, I needed to pick up some motor oil, and had nothing to write with, so I asked him to remember “5W 20.” ….Sure as hell, while wandering the automotive section: “Daddy, don’t forget 5W 20.”

You might have your voice notes on an iPhone, but I’ve got a four year old with a terrifyingly useful memory.

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