Thursday, 2 August 2012

Can I influence what my kids remember of their childhood?

As the kids get older I'm starting to realise the impact childhood has on a person.

My childhood memories (like most people-who knows) are mainly a swirl of colour, feelings, smells and faces. A few events stand out, usually ones associated with strong emotion, but some are reassuringly mundane. Some memories are totally clear, can be replayed over and over, most are blurry (age or wine?).  

I remember running away from home because I didn't want to go to preschool.  I got as far as my friends house around the corner, whose Mum immediately rang mine to tell her where I was.  I was probably 4.  But I remember it really well.

I remember being by myself a lot.  Because I was the youngest of 5, and the other kids were at least 10 years older.  My older brother was 17 when I was born.

I was an *ahem*, surprise.  Quite frankly, I think I'm lucky to be here at all.

Anyways, I'm beginning to realise, that Mike and I are in control of my kids memories to a certain extent.  I know the brain is a tricky little sucker and we can't tell it what to remember (ie.  I'm sure I wasn't always as by myself as I think I was) but I like to it's possible to give the kids brains a few pointers of what to hang on to.

For Example:

I want their memories to not be of me shouting at them to put their shoes on and do their homework.

Instead, I want them to remember their birthday cakes, and how I made them from the Woman's Weekly Cake book.  I want them to realise as they get older what a dreadful baker I am, and the anguish each skateboard, swimming pool and dolly fucking varden has cost me.

I don't want them to remember me forcing them to eat their veges or the tantrum they had because everyone else got dessert but them because they wouldn't eat their peas

I want Joshie to remember how I cook his bits of carrot in a tiny bowl in the microwave so he doesn't have to eat raw carrot.  And how many times we had to have Chilli Con Carne because someone requested it, even though I might die if I see another kidney bean.

I don't want them to remember the naughty corner, room time, banishment from electronic devices, cancelled playdates etc.

I want them to remember skiing with us.  And going to the beach, and birthday parties and catch ups with family and friends.  

I want them to remember they grew up as part of a community.  When we went to the shops, people recognised them, asked how their day was going, invited them over.  We did the same back.  It's really totally good fun.

That's why when my inner hibernating bear comes out (like now in the middle of winter) I have to fight it and keep on getting out there.

So Mike and I are working hard on giving them good memories, and when the world is tough, they can remember, and draw strength from them.  And maybe, just maybe, mention them in their magazine interview when they're rich and famous.