Every Sunday, my husband cooks a big meal. He makes enough for leftovers, and enough to feed the neighbors in the apartments on our floor. That’s how we made friends. On many Sundays, Jimmy will ask the boys what he should make and Luke almost always says, “Chicken cuglets.”
As I was typing that word, I started to think about how I could make you pay attention to the quirky pronunciation of my 5-year-old, and then it hit me. The red line hit me. I forgot that you do not need to pay attention to any such thing, spell check will pay attention for you. And that’s the rub. In an age when so many things pay attention for you, spell check and grammar check for writing, cellphones for pictures and Ipads for video and security cameras for traffic and news tickers and automatic texts from the city of ny, in an age with all of these devices for attending, do we slowly lose our ability to pay attention on our own?
Dylan used to have some of these quirky pronunciations. Weird words that I would never work on changing because I just know that people can sometimes become too conventional, and I never want to help with creating that! I am hoping that my mom saved one or two of these lost words in her heart because she and I are masters at paying attention. Alone we are great but together we are masters. However, while I noticed Dylan’s weird words, I can’t remember them. I think that’s because attention is one thing. Remembering is another. Attention does not guarantee memory. I got it but I didn’t keep it.
So, I also know that writing it down or telling it often can help me remember it always.
I do this weird thing. I don’t know where it came from, but I like to imagine me on my bed in the days before I die. My image is the old me. This me has an old laugh still. Then, when I am living my life as the now-me, and I am feeling really good or my attention is stolen by someone or something, I whisper to myself, “Please let her remember this.”
I don’t ever want to forget that if you ask Luke where the Bulls play basketball, he answers, “Chicongo.” Don’t just see the red line as you read that reader! Say the word out loud wrong! Do it a few times in a row. Say it to someone the next time you get the chance. Use it Luke’s way and then pay attention to the reaction. You can explain yourself. Or not.
And really that’s paying attention, the what and the how of it. You let yourself be amazed by things that seem too small to be noteworthy and then you linger long and laugh. Both the now-you and the then-you will be forever joyful if you do.
By the way, that’s how they do it in Chicongo when they’re eating chicken cuglet sandwiches.