I

Today was the last day of summer school for my five and six year old. They have been attending a half-day summer school for the last three weeks. I’m not sure they really learned anything of substance, but at least there were three more weeks of their summer that was in a structured environment in which they were expected to listen, learn, and play nicely with their classmates.

My wife has driven them to school every day up to this point, but today, their last day, I did it.

Recently, I’ve thought a lot how the experiences my kids are having with me each day are finally to the point where they are likely to remember any of the random days we spend together. I don’t understand how memories work, but I know that when I think back on my early childhood it all tends to blur together. But there are random memories that pop out. They seem so arbitrary, some so inconsequential. What’s up with that?

What are the things my kids will remember from this chapter of their life? What wrinkles are my wife and I creating in those little brains of theirs?

As I was driving them to school this morning I listened to a podcast by Malcolm Gladwell and they just sat in the back of the car silently listening along. It was about the LSAT and how we view who the best and brightest law students are. There’s absolutely nothing they probably got out of listening along, but this is an extremely common thing for my boys to experience when they ride with me in the car. I listen to podcasts all the time. What will they remember of this later in life? Anything? Or will it just be part of the filler that pads the memories that do stand out from this point in their lives? Is the drive to school with dad the sort of thing that creates a backdrop in order for the truly formative experiences to stand out, or even those arbitrary ones?

II

While I picked up the boys from school my wife was busy leading a team meeting for one of our girls at our home, and so I wanted to delay coming home for a little while. I suggested we go out to eat to celebrate their last day of summer school.

When asked where they would like to go out to eat my six year old immediately cheered, “Jimmy Johns!”

“No…no…no.” My five year old said with disapproval. “We should go to Wendy’s!”

“No, I don’t want Wendy’s. I want Jimmy Johns!” My six year old said.

After a a couple minutes of back and forth bickering, they both compromised to eat at McDonalds of all places, which they call McMcDonalds for some reason. They started saying it a few years ago and we thought it was cute and never corrected it. So it has remained McMcDonalds.

III

We ate at McMcDonalds for lunch. They have Toy Story 4 toys right now in their Happy Meals. It feels weird to see Toy Story toys at McMcDonalds in 2019. I’m pretty sure I played with Toy Story toys from McMcDonalds when I was a kid.

America sure loves nostalgia. It sells well, too.

Is this a memory they will remember? The last day of summer school when Dad picked them up and the three of us ate at McMcDonalds? Who knows?

IV

Earlier this summer my wife and I purchased a big tent so that we could enjoy going camping as a family at any number of the various parks around the Nebraska area. We’ve never gone camping as a family before, and thought it would be a fun thing to try together.

We are doing so with the hope that it will create traditions and memories for us as a family. As a I kid I went camping fairly frequently, whether with Cub or Boy Scouts, or with my family. When I think back on those trips I have nothing but great memories. I hope the same can be true for my own kids.

My five year old keeps asking how long it is until Saturday, the day we are going camping. The boys were built for exploring the outdoors. They love taking off their shoes and getting muddy, climbing in bushes, flipping over logs and looking for worms or ants or the elusive grub.

And so even though I have no idea how memories are formed, this weekend we are intentionally hoping to create some good ones. And that really excites me.

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