We recently took my son to get his first haircut, the main chore being to get spaghetti out of his hair in the time it took to get from our house to the hairdressers (easy enough if you don’t give him spaghetti in the car but I’m not a complete monster). So we get to the salon and the girl washes the food out of my son’s hair before expertly cutting and styling his frizzy white mop, leaving him as presentable as he’s ever been.
She then turns to me and asks if I want to keep it, to which I reply, “No, but if I don’t bring him home with me, my wife will ask questions.” She meant did I want a keepsake, a lock of his hair to take away with me. Also no.
Then I realized that I don’t have any keepsakes. None at all. At the hospital, they asked if I wanted the clamp that went around the umbilical cord. It was just a plastic clothes peg covered in dried omelet, so of course I didn’t. I didn’t want to keep the pictures from the first scan or the first thing that he painted any more than I wanted to keep the first diaper he shat in. Are people really keeping these things? I don’t want these weird and disgusting souvenirs in my house.
I discussed it with a friend who said that they have been keeping all these things. They kept the placenta, the hair, the first band-aid, the first tooth that fell out, all of it. There’s probably a jam jar in the fridge labeled ‘Lillie’s first chunky piss’. I bet the first time she sneezed into one of their mouths they spat it out into an ice cube tray and it’s still in the freezer.
Perhaps it’s just me, but I don’t think I’ve made a huge mistake in deciding not to keep these things. It’s like the two hundred pictures you took on your phone of the supermoon – sure you’ve got them but are you ever going to look at them? Definitely not. For one thing, they don’t even look that good. You were in the presence of a natural wonder and you chose to point your iPhone at it and get a distorted mess that you’re never going to look at rather than just watch and enjoy it as it unfolded. I have a son. My first son. He’s my keepsake. And like all keepsakes, eventually when they turn 18 you just throw them out anyway.