Posted by: laughs4dads | March 31, 2010

Why a Baby Is Like an Elephant

They say an elephant never forgets.   

I don’t know if all kids are like this, but Casey had quite an amazing memory growing up.  To be sure, it was very selective, but it was amazing all the same.  In fact, one of the reasons it was amazing was its selectiveness.

How is it, I wanted to know, that a human being who could not remember to inform us of her need to potty just before she actually peed could remember the exact location where Barbara had squashed a fly two months earlier?

I’m not kidding.  Casey loved bugs. She doesn’t anymore; now, if she sees a bug she will drop a large novel on it (often one of Clive Cussler’s) and then leave it there, so sometimes Barbara or I will walk into the room and it will look like the end of the library scene in Ghostbusters.

Anyway, when Casey was about one and a half, she once watched Barb chase this fly around the guest room until she finally cornered it and murdered it in cold blood with a blunt instrument.  For months afterward, Casey would drag people into the guest room, point to precisely the right place on the wall, and relate in detail (although mostly in some unknown language) the entire adventure.  It was the high point of any tour of our home.

But Casey’s memory went beyond insects.  If Barbara told Casey at, say, nine o’clock in the morning, that she’d get an ice pop as soon as daddy got home, you can be sure that as soon as I opened the door more than nine hours later, I’d hear little footsteps and a screechy voice screaming “ICE POP!  ICE POP!”  Not only that, but Casey would interpret Barbara’s promise of that morning to be valid for at least a week, so that I’d be greeted in the same way every night.  It was not, I can assure you, my preference in greetings.  “Daddy,” for example, might have been nice, along with a kiss and a hug.

Another instance of incredible memory:

Casey, whose fascination with wildlife extended past bugs to include virtually anything that moved, was on the back porch with my parents and me one day, when my father, who was from Queens and thought he was on a safari every time he came to visit the suburbs, noticed a chipmunk sitting on a rock.  He hastened to point it out to his granddaughter.  The chipmunk cooperatively stayed put for the five minutes it took Casey to finally look in the right place (“There?” “No, there.”  “There?”  No, there.”), and then took off.  A full two weeks later, Casey and I were on the porch and she dragged me to the railing screaming,  “Look, munk, see?”  and pointed toward the same rock, fully expecting the little thing to still be there, as if it were a permanent installation.

However this same little girl, when asked what she had done on any given day, would recall little and would, in fact, make things up to fill in the holes:

ME: So, honey, what did you do today?
CASEY: Debbie.  Jonathan.
ME: Oh, you played with Debbie and Jonathan?
BARBARA (puzzled): No, she didn’t.
ME: Oh.  And what did you have for lunch?
CASEY: Burger.  Fries.
BARBARA:  Grilled cheese.
ME: Did you see any animals today?
CASEY:  Ammals.  Yeah.  Cow.  Moo.
ME (TO BARBARA): Where did she see a cow?
BARBARA: She didn’t see a cow.
ME: Why is she saying she saw a cow?
BARBARA:  Because she has a good imagination.  That’s very healthy.

Well, she does have a good imagination.  On the other hand, maybe she was just lying.

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