Ancient History

Follow Me?



I found an old floppy disc with my initials. I was curious, so I put it in the floppy drive and looked through some of my old writings. Most were from 1999-2001. It is fascinating to read about my older kids when they were babies and toddlers. You think you won’t forget, but you do. I found the following thoughts about my now-third-grader. According to the disc, this mini-essay was created Tuesday, November 9th, 1999.

She is wearing a pair of white socks on her hands and she is eating a peeled banana. Sticky yellow film covers the socks, and tiny white cotton bits cover the banana. She is my daughter and she is two. As I watch her, I realize I am angry, amused, annoyed, and charmed, all at the same time. Only a toddler can inspire such conflicting emotions in an adult. I am pleased that she is happily eating something nutritious. Her socks are filthy, but they are pulled up to her elbows like thick white opera gloves. I sigh at her cuteness.

She has taught me that birthday candles can double as crayons, especially when the artist is using a black dishwasher door as their canvas. She has tried to convince me margarine and Coke make a delicious, satisfying breakfast. Since she discovered her love for margarine, I no longer have cubes in my butter dish—I have relief maps of the Grand Canyon where her little finger has carved trenches and rivulets.

My daughter’s hands are works of art in themselves. They are chubby and dimpled and just right for nibbling. Yes, they destroy potted plants and wield errant lipsticks over the coffee table. They have been known to hit her little brother and flush the unflushable down the toilet. But her hands have been known to pat my face lovingly as she says, “You are my cutie-mommy.” Her hands have pet soft puppies, felt daddy’s scratchy whisker face, and opened nearly every present under our Christmas trees. She learns so much everyday through her little fingers and her pink palms that I wonder where they will take her…

Will she be a healer, a nurse or doctor, tending to and comforting the sick with the cool touch of her palm on hot, worried foreheads? Will she create music on a piano that makes those listening catch their breath at her expressiveness? Maybe she will knead bread in a bakery, or eliminate bad hair days with the snip of her scissors. She could hold a firehose, drive a race car, write a story, milk a cow, or tend her garden. All of these things are possibilities—if I do my job and my hands do theirs.

9 comments to Hands

  • Russ Eldredge

    Marvelous, Gretchen! Children grow up so quickly. I forget about a lot of the cute and precocious things my now 8-year old would do when she was younger.

    Thank goodness for things like video cameras! My wife actually caught her on film, singing a song about her belly-button when she was 3.

    I wish my memory could hold all of these moments.

  • This was beautiful…and how wonderful that you wrote all of that down!

  • That was wonderful.

    It’s those small details I want to live on forever in my mind, the bananas eaten by socked hands. Because, I’m just guessing here, but I’m pretty sure she eats them bare handed now?

  • That is just precious!

  • Shayne

    How sweet! And how lucky your kids are to have a mom who puts down those thoughts on paper (or on floppy disk, as it were) so they’ll have that to look back on when they are older too.

  • hamster

    Thanks for reminding me that it’s important to write things down. It seems like it would be impossible to forget, but then the next stage is all consuming, and you never know when it will arrive.

  • Mel

    And you think you’ll never forget, but you do. That’s why I write.

  • Absolutely beautiful. How quickly they grow, and how soon we forget.

  • Did you read this to her now? I bet she would think it is wonderful to get a glimpse of how you felt back then!

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