When I was in third grade I wanted to be an archaeologist. I can’t remember what happened between third grade and college and why that’s not what I became but yesterday when Ted and I cleaned his room in preparation for packing him up for college I got to live out a childhood dream. I got to dig through the remains of a bygone era.
My son’s childhood is now a bygone era.
The legos and K’Nex we unearthed are artifacts. Evidence that in this room my child once used his ability to hyper-focus on tiny details by spending endless hours building intricate models of hot rods, skyscrapers and the Millennium Falcon. I rested easy knowing that if a middle-of-the-night intruder were to break into our house they could not get to Teddy because they would be unable to navigate the minefield of loose pieces he always left strewn across his bedroom floor.
Found were over 2,000 Pokemon cards. His obsession from ages 8-14. He knew every single Pokemon and every statistic about them. He played Pokemon, he watched Pokemon, he read Pokemon and we, and anybody in which Teddy came into contact, heard about Pokemon.
And finally there were his books, which despite having always been in open view were discovered again. As I picked each one up to dust it off I revisited the varied subjects and stories that fed my son’s imaginative mind from physics to Captain Underpants.
But of all the books, the one title that caused me to pause was “I Was So Mad” by Norma Simon. A book I had forgotten despite it being something we frequently read to Teddy in our efforts to help him cope with his frustrations. Holding that book in my hands again and turning its once familiar pages, it is hard to believe there was a time when Teddy had almost constant meltdowns. All the stimulation from a day at school, the sights, the sounds, the smells from 800 people overloaded his sensory system and at the end of the day (and all too often, during the day) he would fall apart. This room and these contents have always been his sanctuary.
After I finished dusting it off I placed “I Was So Mad” back on the shelf with the other books. I am keeping it. Although I didn’t study archeology in college I did major in history. My education along with the subsequent 22 years has taught me it is the trials we endure and overcome that shape us. These trials, although not to be dwelled on, and definitely not enjoyed, must be remembered. Just as in a museum’s display of archaeological artifacts, where celebratory ceremonial costumes are placed alongside implements of warfare, that same real mix of joy and darkness is found in my collection as well. I am just grateful there is so much more joy and the meltdowns are finally just a memory.