Documenting firsts

This accurately represents my right hand today and my right hand in third grade.

While digging through the boxes in my childhood bedroom closet today, I re-discovered my baby book. Baby’s Milestones: Birth to Seven Years.

A freebie from local businesses at the time, it’s banana yellow with orange polka dots and has an image of a sleeping baby in a bassinet on the front cover. It’s quintessential baby-bookish.

I remember when I first discovered the book years ago. Actually, I don’t so much remember discovering it as I remember being surprised by its contents. It was only partially-filled. And, I don’t mean partially-filled as in “Birth to 3.5 years,” but rather partially-filled as in “Birth to 18 months.” While those first 18 months were well-documented, the time that followed held nothingness.

I remember at the time deciding to cut Mom some slack. After all, I was the third child, and any information she could’ve provided would’ve been along the lines of “been there, done that,” and who wants to write about the same thing twice, let alone thrice?

Anyway, it all mattered not, because I was more than happy to help Mom out and fill in the rest of the information on my own. After all, who could possibly know me better than me?

Under Marks of Identification: Footprints & Fingerprints (left and right), I drew in toes and fingers. I drew baby-sized toes and fingers, and I drew present-day-sized toes and fingers. Why have just the baby-sized appendages shown? Wouldn’t readers appreciate present-day sizes also? Yes, surely they would.

Even then I was clearly on top of my rationalization skills.

Under First Trips, I described the beach (“fun”), the country (“live there”), the zoo (“been there”), the circus (“haven’t been there”), in a train (“no”), in an automobile (“yes”), boat (“yes”), airplane (“no”) and bus (“yes”). Judging by my wobbly cursive writing, I’m guessing I found this book when I was in the third grade.

Under Photographs, I traced my left hand, drew in fingernails and signed my name. You can never have too many outlines of your hands in your baby book. Nor can you have too many examples of your signature. I would’ve hated for my identity to be mistaken for someone else’s. Especially in my own baby book. It turns out I was just as concerned about my identity back then as I am today.

And, if you’re wondering, my current hand size now dwarfs my third-grade hand.

I left First Friendships blank. Sad, I know. Under Kindergarten, I listed my school and teacher and then I described my first day: “The first day of school was nerves for me.”

Of course, it was. Because I couldn’t spell. That would make any kindergartner anxious.

Under First Grade, I printed “very nervous” in giant letters. Under Second Grade, I wrote: “very very nervous.” We must not have explored punctuation, yet. And, I have to say, I’m glad that the book ended at second grade, because who knows just how much nervousness I would’ve described in the years following.

Next came First Experiences with Money, and mine were memorable. First allowance: “never.” First Money to Spend: “never.” First Money Saved: “never.”

Wow. All doom and gloom early on.

I must’ve lost interest in my memoir at that point, because I ended my additions there. There are no entries under Birthdays or Vacations or Favorites. No memories of Christmases, Activities Outside Home and School or Special Aptitudes. Perhaps I thought I’d save those for another day. Some day when I had more time. Or better responses.

I guess there’s always tomorrow.

Thanks for taking what little free time you had back then and documenting your memories, Mom. I think I’ll share mine with Justin, if you don’t mind. That way, he has some, too.

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One thought on “Documenting firsts

  1. Mom says:

    Ahh, now you know why I joined the FBI instead of going to college. Writing ANALYSIS was my first love, not writing. Memory books required writing. Also when the little treasures happened, I was probably in the middle of canning, or gardening, or washing clothes, or hanging out wash, or cooking or chasing pigs, or loading steers (the big brutes), yadda yaddy yadda; whatever it was, I hope you realize my love for you didn’t require writing things down but in DOING things for you,with you, etc. Still love you bunches!!!

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