Who knew that a cheesy Japanese restaurant would be
jam-packed at 5 p.m., and that service would be so incredibly slow? Or that it
would be painfully awkward to sit at a communal table of strangers (which
included two men with neck tattoos and a couple that managed not to speak the
How could I have anticipated that our son would be
completely unimpressed by the flashing knives and the onion volcano I had
reminisced about so excitedly? By
mid-dinner he was so antsy we had to pull out the iPad to keep him entertained. (The thing with Benihana is that once you commit, you're in it for the
I came home bitterly disappointed that what I thought would
be a fun family night could turn out to be so lame.
It wasn't the gleeful experience I had envisioned.
Then I recalled the time last spring, when I shepherded the entire family to the aquarium 50 miles away: One hour and $120 later, my son had lost interest and I was overwhelmed by the crowds. So we turned back around for a deflating drive home.
There was the time when I rented a cabin in the mountains so
our then 7-month-old could frolic in the snow for the first time. What we
remember most about that trip was spending the day waiting for the hot water
repairman. We did manage to spend some time wandering in the sludge outside
our cabin, but it wasn't the gleeful experience I had envisioned.
I realized that on my son's behalf, I tend to get overly
excited at the idea of making memories for him, but real life rarely matches
up to what's inside your head.
When I try to recreate experience from my childhood, I'm
relying on the "best of" highlights of my memories, smoothed out by the passage
of time. And I forget, over and over, that my son is still tiny. There is
plenty of time for him to have life
experiences that will allow him to form memories on his own, with or without my