How is it that a group of people can be in the same house at the same time, experience the same event, yet have markedly different memories?
The way I remember it: Five grandkids were here for a long weekend, and it was loud. Very loud.
The way the kids remember it: Five of us cousins were together for a couple of days at Grandma’s. We used our inside voices.
Grandpa: A couple of the grandkids spent the night. Maybe two nights. Or three. If it was loud, I didn’t notice.
Grandma: The kids spent one morning crafting at the kitchen table. There was construction paper everywhere, scissors all over the place, markers without lids, glue sticks rolling on the floor, tape that wouldn’t peel off the roll, a jammed stapler and a hole punch that had opened from the bottom and showered the floor with confetti. One kid had marker on her face, and another had marker covering the sides of both her hands. The tablecloth we use when they craft was a smidge on the table and mostly on the floor.
The kids: We made art. Wanna see it?
Grandpa: It may have gotten a little wild at the kitchen table. I didn’t really notice. The tape was old and kept getting stuck. I was focused on unsticking the tape.
Grandma: It was time for lunch, so I said, “Clear the table, then go wash your hands.”
The kids: Grandma said go wash your hands, so we did.
Grandpa: I helped with lunch by keeping the kids out of the kitchen. I moved the coffee table out of the way in the family room, so they could do cartwheels and somersaults.
Grandma: I cleaned up the crafting mess, boiled water for mac and cheese, made a few sandwiches for the peanut butter-only wing, peeled and cut apples, halved some bananas, cooked the macaroni, set the table, threw in another load of laundry, finished the mac and cheese, iced a head bump that mysteriously happened in the family room, put the milk on and called them to the table.
The kids: Grandma is a good cook, and we told her so.
Grandpa: I walked into the kitchen, and there was lunch. It’s like magic.
Grandma: After lunch, I said, “Why don’t you kids clear the table and dry a few dishes?” They each grabbed a dishtowel and pulled up a chair next to the kitchen counter. I washed, they dried. I finished washing before they finished drying and went into the other room to pick up some toys. I folded laundry, straightened up the bathroom where they had washed up and cleared a path in the front hall.
The kids: After lunch Grandma went into the other room. We think she sat in a chair. The sink was filled with dirty dishes. We cleaned up the whole kitchen all by ourselves, while Grandma sat in a chair.
Grandpa: She looks well rested to me. Those kids are a huge help every time they come.
Lori Borgman is a columnist, author and speaker. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.