A memory of Lena, age 5.
What she remembers:
We are facing each other on the bed at night. She nervously confides to me that she likes a boy. I laugh in her face.
What I remember:
She tells me she likes a boy. I ask her what she likes about him.
“He has these really cool gloves.”
Puzzled, I ask further, “What kind of gloves?”
“He has these skeleton gloves. And they glow in the dark.”
“Ooh.” I suppose I laughed, but what I remember is stifling my amusement.
I told Lena my version a few years ago, and she thought, oh, that’s why my mother laughed at me.
What were the consequences of this misunderstanding/misremembering/forgetting? I don’t remember her telling me about liking a boy again, until high school. Did she spend her childhood years thinking I would laugh in her face if she told me she liked a boy?
She is sanguine about it now, at 17. Amused at her kindergarten self. Remembers liking the boy, but not the gloves. Has forgiven me. Says it was late at night, she was tired and prone to overreaction. I appreciate her adjusted perspective.
We can’t get those years back. We communicate better and better as she gets older. But oh, I wonder what she might have told me, what she held back, afraid I would laugh in her face.