This Old House

August 6, 2012 at 12:45 am | Posted in Bun, Family, Giggles, Lollipop | 8 Comments
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“Tell us about when we were babies,” they ask.

Around the dinner table, soaking in bubbles, buckled in the car. All the time, they ask. “Tell us about when we were babies.”

And I know there are three small words they’re leaving off: in this house. Tell us about when we were babies in this house. This house with stairs on the inside, with green and brown and red walls, with refrigerator magnets and graham crackers.


Because, for all of us, this house feels equal parts foreign and familiar. They need stories to remind themselves: We were here once.

I try to remember. Between the damn soul-sucking heat and the dog hair every-damn-where, I try to concentrate on these babies and the joy they have brought to this place.

Once I push back thoughts of the stickiness and loudness and sheer volume of laundry they have also brought, wispy feathers of memory start to tickle the corners of my brain: how Giggles used to chew contentedly on his socks until I rescued him from the crib every morning, how Lollipop’s hat collection once took up nearly every drawer in her room.


We gather around the outlet where her butterfly nightlight exploded and stare so hard we think we can actually see the long-gone singe marks. “That’s why we don’t play with lecktristy,” lectures Giggles.

In the playroom, we find a red foam block covered in tiny teeth marks. “Who … did  … that?” they ask between guffaws and gasping breaths. I can’t remember. “I … think … it … was … you!” they point at each other, still cackling.

We look at the baby pictures on the hall bookcase. Three bald heads. Three big smiles. Three sets of chubby cheeks. Which one is me? they each want to know. I point out Lollipop’s heart-embroidered blue jeans, Giggles’ green Christmas vest, Bun’s dapper red jammies.


The next time we pass by, carting my silk flower collection and a bucket of rocks to make fairy houses, they pause over their photos. “That’s me,” they smile. Now, they have context. They have a beginning. They have a mental bridge to take them from this house to that house and back to this one again.

That’s me. In this house.

I’m glad I can give them something to wrap their minds and fingers around, a few funny, comfy stories. We were here once. This is home.

But I can’t help wondering: Who will reassure me?

Do your children ask for these stories? What do you tell them? And who does it soothe more, them … or you?



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  1. How far back can you remember? I can remember several events when I was one year old. People have a hard time believing that but it is true. The reason I know is I know things no one else knew about the event. I know babies understand language long before they speak. So watch what you say…

  2. Once again you have found a place into my brain and into my heart- scaring me with your eerie foresight. I live in soul sucking heat here in SC. I live and breathe dog hair every-damn-where. And my three little bald boys are not so bald anymore… but they’re going to leave here forgetting this place. They are 3.5 and 1.5 and I don’t think they will remember the place that they were born- and that tugs at my heart and the corners of my eyes. I know a place is a place is a place and we make the home with our family… but that still doesn’t make it any easier. Counting down- 2 months to lift off…

  3. Peas. I just adore those moments of marveling at the way a toddler makes a fist and extends a single finger and thumb to clutch at peas or Cheerios. We have moved many times and telling stories in “the house with the stairs”, “the house with the hammocks” and “the house with 2 driveways” all help anchor us in the home anchored within.

  4. My girls look at baby pictures and try to guess who is who. I can’t believe they can’t tell themselves apart as babies! I certainly can. Most of the time. We’ve only lived one other place as a couple, as parents, so our children only know one house. Flora was 9 months when we moved. I marvel more about them remembering people, and where those people live!

  5. My kids each have stories they like to hear…

  6. These pictures made my day. I can totally understand how hard it must be to come back.

  7. This is so sweet, I love it!

  8. […] my mind, well, I’m not sure where it’s been. I still feel lost, somewhere between here and there, as if my thoughts are still on the plane waiting to clear customs. For the first time […]

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