life in bedlam
Today in the car on the way home from his soccer game (they lost), Eli started reminiscing about the night we found a dog in the Cali Burrito parking lot.
The dog’s name was Scrapper (he had a tag), and he was just hanging around the parking lot as we exited the restaurant. He was an adorable little terrier of some kind. A couple of women were petting him and trying to decide what to do when we opened our car doors and in he jumped. This surprised and delighted the kids, and Brandon and I figured we’d just added a dog to the family.
Then we noticed his tag had more than his name. It had a phone number AND an address. We found our way to the address, which was eight miles from Cali Burrito. No one was home, but Scrapper perked up like he knew exactly where he was. We called the number and got voice mail. We talked to the neighbors across the road in this very remote wooded neighborhood. They said Scrapper always ran around loose, that we’d probably be fine just leaving him at the house.
We decided to leave him, and as we pulled out of the driveway, my phone rang. It was Scrapper’s owners. They were at a party near the restaurant and hadn’t noticed he’d gone. They seemed completely unconcerned that he had wandered off. “That’s what he does,” the man said. “He wasn’t lost, he just likes to go exploring.”
Scrapper was the sweetest dog, and especially took to Eli during our brief time with him. He sat serenely between the kids in the back seat with his head on Eli’s lap. He didn’t bark, he enjoyed their affection. I knew Eli regretted having to let him go home, but I didn’t think a year later he would access that memory with such detail. It was obviously important to him.
We love to talk about past events during dinner time or while on walks. It’s the one year anniversary of our first trip to Disney World, and we’re still playing the “which was your favorite park/what was your favorite ride” game. But so often when we talk about the past, the parts that I am certain will stand out for them are never the parts they chose.
Our recent trip to Chicago included a game at Wrigley, an amazing Mythbusters exhibit, and so much more. Of course those were great experiences, but for Eli, “That was the first time I ever watched a Nostalgia Critic video with Miles!”
The Scrapper and Chicago stories remind me that we never really know what is going to stay with our kids. We can’t know what the sticky stuff will be when we plan what we think will be a tremendous adventure (or even just a humble trip to a burrito joint). Sometimes it’s what you hope for, like the happiness that brightens their faces when we talk about our canoe trip down the Green River in Kentucky. And sometimes it’s not what you expect, like the conspiratorial glee of watching age inappropriate videos with your big brother.
So, we’ll forge ahead and plan future experiences for our family. I hope that when we finally make it to Paris, Eli’s favorite moment won’t require wireless internet access. But, if it does, I’ll take a deep breath, drink some good wine, and smile.