M3: Daddy, my armpit is broken!
Me: Hmm, I think you must be the first person in the world to have a broken armpit then.
M3: It’s OK, I fixed it by tapping it a few times.
These are the fleeting, blink-and-you-will-miss-it, moments that I am desperately trying to retain in my mind. As someone who studies memory and all the wonderful ways in which it works (or indeed, fails), I am well aware of how precious these moments are.
John Gruber wrote something around Christmas time last year that really resonated with me. It was actually something he had written 10 years before, but any parent will tell you this holds true for them too. It’s worth quoting in full:
Late last night, inspecting Santa’s handiwork, a simple thought occurred to me. A decade or so from now, when, say, I’m waiting for my son to come home from college for his winter break, and, when he does, he wants to spend his time going out with his friends — how much will I be willing to pay then to be able to go back in time, for one day, to now, when he’s eight years old, he wants to go to movies and play games and build Lego kits with me, and he believes in magic?
How much then, for one day with what my family has right now? How much? Everything.
The truth is, I’m the luckiest person in the world today. I hope you are too.
How much? Everything. As good an answer as there can ever be.
Alas, we can never go back in time. That’s why I sometimes find myself hugging my son as he is fast asleep, smelling his hair, trying my best to commit that fragment of olfactory information to my long-term memory, hoping to be able to recall it one day, far from now, when the boy has left the nest and has gone on into the wide world to have his own adventures.
What would I give to be able to return to this quiet moment where everything seems frozen in time, and things are just perfect as they are?