I live with a listmaker. We have lists everywhere. They are on the fridge, on bulletin boards, on the kitchen counters, on our desks, and in our pockets.
We have lists that tell us what long-term projects need to be accomplished in the house, what short-term projects must be taken care of, and whom we ought to invite for social engagements. We have lists of what foods to buy, what recipes to try, what bills to pay, and what vacation spots to investigate. And, of course, we have a list of what issues to discuss, should we ever have enough time to sit down and have a conversation after doing everything on our lists.
All our lists have initials telling who's responsible for the task, stars to indicate urgency, check marks to say the task has been started, but not finished, and dates to tell us the deadlines. Every so often, there's a black line drawn through an item that has finally been accomplished.
Anyone who comes into our house can see at a glance what is going on in our lives, or what should be going on, or what will be going on.
Even my children are getting involved in the listmaking. I have an 11-year-old who puts a list of what he needs to remember for school in his sock drawer, because he knows for certain he will open it everyday.
My 7-year-old recently listed, with highly creative phonetic spelling, his "most favorite" dinners, and posted them in the kitchen for me to refer to.
It seems that I am the only one in the family who can't get into this listmaking phenomenon. Lists of things to do overwhelm me. I don't enjoy being reminded of all that is undone. I dislike anticipating chores that are hard, tedious, or boring. I wonder how I will ever find enough time, have enough energy, earn enough money to do all these things?
This is not to say that I am totally against lists. I just think they don't all have to be focused on things to do.
I've been thinking lately of advocating that we decorate our home with a different kind of list. Instead of creating lists of things to do, we could make lists of things that have inspired us, tickled us, pleased us, made us feel good about ourselves; lists of things that would be fun to remember.
We could list our favorite books or our favorite games. We could list our favorite experiences from our family vacations. A list of the 10 silliest things our family ever did would be fun. Maybe we could each have a list of our best accomplishments of the week. There are lots of funny, interesting, enjoyable memories, ideas, or happenings that we could list.
I always wished that I had kept a list of each of my children's unique pronunciations of new vocabulary words. Before my oldest son began school, he loved to add and subtract on his "kellicater." And my youngest son's all-time favorite activity was turning on the sirens and rescuing Lego people with his "ambuance." A list like this, I wouldn't mind looking at every day.
I once began keeping track of "totally funny things said in all seriousness." When my youngest son was 4 years old, we visited Maine, and drove by President Bush's summer home. Later that evening at dinner, he proudly told the waitress that he had seen President Plant's house.
This is also the child who "wrote" an elaborate letter of lines and squiggles to mail to a grown-up friend of his, but when I asked him what he wrote, indignantly replied, "Don't you know I can't read yet?"
A list of things like these would be delightful to have on the refrigerator door.
Just imagine having lists of such sweet memories tacked up all over your house in places where you could easily read them whenever you felt like it. What a simple way to bring a smile into a stressful day, and so much more fun than reading an endless list of things that need doing.