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Remembering what it is like to forget

I forgot. My kids have adopted it as their slogan I ask the 11 year-old, "Why didn't you hang up your wet towel?"

He answers, "I forgot."

I scold my youngest boy, "Don't jump out and scare your sister."

"I forgot," he defends himself.

I say to my 13-year-old, "Weren't you going to your French teacher after school today for extra help?"

"Uh, I forgot."

My daughter responds to my irritation over finding the cat asleep on the sofa, after I specifically told her to put the cat out, with a plaintive, "Mama, I forgot."

Then their father comes storming in from work, having navigated a maze of child-sized transportation - skates, bikes, scooters, and skate boards - blockading the front door "Put that stuff in the garage when you're finished using it!" he booms Borrowing a line from my repertoire, he rhetorically questions, "How many times have I told you?"

"We forgot," someone answers, and, because not one small body moves to right the wrong, it is unclear whether the child means they forgot to put their toys away or if he means they can't recollect how many times their daddy has told them to put their toys away.

I've heard talk that hormones in the chicken we eat expedite physical maturity in children Perhaps it's true, since my offspring bypassed adolescence and sped straight on through adulthood to their golden years of senility and dementia Though they might not be forgetting to put their teeth in, they certainly require constant reminders to brush them.

They can't remember to toss their dirty clothes in the hamper, get their planners signed, or flush the toilet They forget to give me teachers' notes, tie their shoes, chew with their mouths closed, and put the milk back in the refrigerator

Recalling these things burdens their brains I render regular repetitions of, "Hold your fork correctly, put your napkin in your lap, shut the door, turn down the television, close the curtain when you take a shower, wear underwear, say "yes ma'am,' don't call your brother nimrod, and wash your hair," but it does no good They still forget.

I've seriously considered giving them a taste of their own medicine When one asks if he has any clean jeans, I could reply, "I forgot to do your laundry." When they nag me for snacks, I would explain, "I forgot to buy snacks at the grocery store." When a hungry child wants to know what's for dinner, I would tell her, "It's burned! I forgot to take it out of the oven I guess I'm not serving anything but these stale crackers I forgot to seal shut."

And my forgetting wouldn't stop there I would forget to take them to baseball practice and birthday parties and to schedule ballet and guitar instruction I would forget to pick them up from school and to drop them off at friends' houses I would forget their names and their birthdays and the stories they beg me to tell them about when they were little I would forget how much they love pork chops and peas and feed them beef livers and beets, instead.

Maybe then they would understand the repercussions of "I forgot."

But on second thought, it won't be too long, in the grand scheme of life, before I reach my own golden years of senility and dementia and actually don't remember their names and birthdays and those sweet stories they love me to recite, and I don't want them to feed me pured beef livers and beets just to teach me a lesson about forgetting to put my teeth in

(Lucy Adams is a syndicated columnist, freelance writer, and author of If Mama Don't Laugh, It Ain't Funny She lives in Thomson Lucy invites readers to contact her at and visit her web site,

Web posted on Thursday, January 29, 2009

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