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Crayons and Stilettos: Finding the meaning of life

By Tiffany Evans

Journal columnist

A couple of weeks ago in this column I discussed the answer to the meaning of life as depicted in a movie “The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy.” I incorrectly remembered the answer as being one. I tell you this because as I often do, I was sharing with my husband what the column was about, and when I got to the meaning of life he said “42” as I said “1.”  As a mom of two boys, I have a lot of moments where I don’t remember something exactly perfect. Both my kids seemingly have photographic memories and can tell you who got them what for their birthday when they turned 2, they can tell you what happened on a movie that they watched when they were three and in the case of my 8-year-old can remember the exact order and spelling for his weekly spelling words. My oh my!!

This again brings me naturally to a funny incident that happened in our household just last week. The boys and I were discussing something that had happened probably months ago. To be completely honest right this second, I can’t even begin to remember what it was. Just goes to show you that “mommy brain” is indeed very real. Both boys remembered this event as being complete opposites from each other. After much discussion with each re-telling the entire story more than once, my eldest finally says, “don’t you always say I have the best memory in the house.” Ugh… my own words come back to bite me (as always). I stared at him thinking to myself, yes you do. However, I looked at him and said, “you might have the best memory but you also could be telling me incorrectly just so that I will agree with you.”

A few months ago, I was giving my eldest son a spelling test. You know the ones where the teacher says a word, gives a sentence and the student writes down the word. As I was reading him the words and giving him the sentences, I noticed that he seemed to be taking longer than what I thought was necessary on a few of the words. A couple of words in, he says “can you stop doing sentences and just tell me the word.” In looking at his paper, I realized that with each word I said he would write not just that word, but a word or two that came after. He had memorized the order of the words as we gave them to him during the week, and as a result memorized the spelling of each word. What we discovered was that in order for him to actually learn the words and not just memorize them we would have to change up the order both in practice and in testing. Now I jump around. I remember the first time that I jumped around on his spelling words, as I read the second word, he looked at me and said, “no, that is not the next word it should be (whatever the next word was in the original order).” He had indeed already written what he remembered to be the next word on his paper.

The more time that I spend watching, teaching, playing with these two wild and crazy boys the more that I learn. In watching them and listening to their conversations I have found them to be little sponges. Even when they don’t fully comprehend what is going on around them, they continue to absorb the information and put it into practice in their daily lives. I continue to be blown away by their ability to recall odd events and retell them with way more detail than what I can possibly even remember.