I have a really bad memory. My theory is that countless undiagnosed concussions from years of competitive hockey as a fairly small kid have impacted the memory portion of my brain. So, I remember a lot less about my childhood than the average person might remember.
One of the things I don’t remember much about is how my parents behaved around my little sister when she was born. My sister is 5 and a half years younger than me, and while I remember the day they brought her home from the hospital (I remember because I got a Cabbage Patch Kid that day), the next few years are more or less a blur.
I don’t remember if my sister slept well. I couldn’t tell you if they coo’ed a lot or not at all. I don’t know if my sister was breast fed or bottle fed.
This poor memory is sad, but it is nevertheless my lot in life.
Pea is essentially the first baby our family has had around since my little sister. So as I sit back and watch how everyone reacts around her, I get a glimpse of the behaviour my memory can’t afford me.
I think the behaviour that surprises me the most if that of the grandfathers in our family.
Both my Dad and my father-in-law are smart, caring and loving men. But they grew up in another time, when men weren’t asked to join their wives in the delivery room and breadwinning was seen as the primary role of the father. Somehow, thinking of my Dad and my father-in-law as playful, roll-on-the-floor kind of guys doesn’t seem right.
But that is exactly what I’m seeing. These two men, who used to be seen as counsellors and enforcers, are slowly becoming playmates and youngsters at heart.
Sure, time has limited what they are capable of doing. No longer can they literally roll around on the floor or throw Pea on their shoulders. But in their own way, they are relating to Pea in ways that I never expected them to, and in the case of my own Dad, don’t remember him ever doing.
Seeing them behave this way is definitely altering my awareness of them as people… and in a good way. I just hope my memory holds up and I remember this for a long time to come.