Last night while E and The Boy were playing together, The Boy recalled the oddest memory.
“Mom,” he said while E was taking some Sesame Street money out of the cash register of the Elmo’s Restaurant play set, “I peed on that money.”
E froze and looked up at me. “It wasn’t that money, E_,” I told him gently. Then, to The Boy, I said, “Yes, that’s right! When you were two and still learning to use the potty and this was in the kitchen.”
“Yeah, yeah,” The Boy said. “I didn’t know I had to go potty, and so I peed, and I peed all over the money.”
I’ve read that we, as people, will remember incidents from our childhood that we find particularly traumatic or an incredible deviation from the norm. I have a few of my own memories from childhood, the earliest dating back to when I was almost a year old and I recall waking in the middle of the night with my sister sleeping beside me, and the sounds of crying around me. (I think this must have been the night my maternal grandfather died.) I remember the first time I visited the house I would ultimately grow up in (I must have been about two years old) and when my pre-school teacher brought the dog we would adopt to my parents’ house when I was about 3 (and how he would bark like mad at my father because my dad wore glasses). Were any of these particularly traumatic? Not to me, but they were definitely a deviation from the norm.
I very clearly remember the incident The Boy recalled, so I thought carefully about how we handled the situation on that day. Neither Cute Husband nor I got angry with The Boy or punished him or anything. And The Boy didn’t even cry or throw a fit about it. But I did calmly collect the Sesame Street money that had been peed on and toss it into the trash, explaining to The Boy that because he peed on it, it was no longer usable. Then I took some of the paper money that had been spared from the accident, made several color copies of them, and trimmed them to replace the old (now damaged and discarded) Sesame Street money. To an outsider, the incident was really a non-issue. (And he wound up with more Sesame Street money after the incident than he had before he had his accident.)
The incident was certainly funny, but I certainly wouldn’t consider it traumatic or life-changing. I mean, it’s not like this was his first, last, or only potty-training accident.
But then again, it’s his memory and not mine. Who am I to say what’s truly important to him?