selective memory…


The human mind is vast and always yearning to learn more. At least that’s what the boy tells me when I complain about how long he’s been online each day. “Mom, sometimes I take college courses…” He told me the other night. “Really, so then you’re ready to hit the job market, right?” I replied. “Mom, you’re like a broken record, really…” He replied. “Funny, I didn’t think you even knew what a record was…” I joked in return. “The human mind is so vast that sometimes it allows you to forget non essential things…” He explained before laughing and adding, “Very much like this conversation…”

Yes, selective amnesia or selective memory can be very good, when in fact used for good. Take for instance my niece Lindsay. Last weekend after several DAYS of labor, she gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. As my eldest sister Terri conveyed, “She had a difficult time, but you would never know it. She is so relaxed and happy with the baby, it made everything worthwhile…” Then there was the time the boy broke his arm, once they popped his bone back into place and set the cast, he completely forgot about the pain he was in only moments earlier. His mind completely settled on the new cool cast he was sporting, and not the memories that led to his getting that new cool cast.

But selective memory can also be used for bad, most typically while arguing with the kids, “He said, She said” baloney. Take for example the argument I had with the boy this morning… The other day I had him pull weeds at Mrs. K’s house, to give him something to do, to earn some money. However, I had to work for Mr L in the afternoon and could not supervise his work. After pulling weeds for about an hour, he called me and explained, “Mom I need something to drink…” But before he could finish his thought I interrupted and said, “Bay, she has cold water bottles in her refrigerator, ask her aide to give you one”. He agreed and then said, “I also should be wearing jeans to do this…” I interrupted him again and said, “Dude just get the job done so you don’t have to come back…” He grunted in return and we both hung up the phone.

Fast forward to today when I found out he didn’t finish his weed pulling. “Bay, you didn’t finish Mrs. K’s front garden,” I said to him at lunch. “Yeah, I wondered when you were going to bring that up..” He replied and thus began our game of selective memory…

“I told you the other day I was quitting for the day…” He said. “No you didn’t, you said you were thirsty,” I replied. “I was and then I said I needed jeans…” He tried. “Okay, but you never said you were done for the day…” I said. “Yes I did, you just weren’t listening to me,” He said, his voice rising in ire.  

My voice also began to rise when I realized nothing was going to get accomplished at this rate and decided to take a deep breath before I responded.”Regardless whose memory is being selective here, why didn’t you go over and finish yesterday?” “Because I was waiting for you to tell me to…” He replied. Looking squarely into his eyes I said, “Baloney. You were hoping I wouldn’t notice. Seriously Bay, if this had been a real job and you didn’t show initiative in finishing a project or task, without being asked, you wouldn’t be employed long.” 

An uneasy silence arose between us as he took in what I said. “Will you show me what needs to be finished? He asked. “Yes,” I said which ended the conversation.


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