education, parenting

Building Childhood Memories

We have been listening to “On the Banks of Plum Creek” by Laura Ingalls Wilder. It is amazing to listen to her account of her childhood. Her family had so little…a rag doll and some paper dolls Ma had cut out of old papers were prized treasures. And yet they were so joyful. Laura’s description of evenings of laughter and dance while Pa played his fiddle evoke a sense of longing for a simpler life in a simpler time. Her tales of running along the creek, chasing fish and pestering crabs cause the reader to pause and reflect on one’s own childhood. Despite living in conditions most of us today would consider “hardship,” Laura provides such a vivid and loving account of her childhood that over 100 years later we can laugh at the antics of this little brown-haired girl of the frontier. Hours in front of the television watching the latest movie and playing the latest video game will hardly make such a lasting impression on this and future generations.

What memories will our children have? I’m hoping mine will remember my husband taking time to read to them from “The Bible Story” by Maxwell before going to bed when he returns from a trip. And the post cards he sends them, and the letters they write to include in his lunch box. I hope they remember breaking open the honeysuckles to get to the sweet nectar inside, and gathering wild plums by the creek north of town. I hope they remember hiking down the creek at the dog run, balancing across the tree that fell over it, and the time that we all fell in and had to get in the car wet and muddy. I hope they remember praying and talking and reading about God. I hope my daughter remembers her excitement at her first “real” Bible. I hope the remember popping popcorn and mixing it with M&Ms for an occasional family movie.

I hope they will someday sit in front of the fireplace with their grandchildren and have one or two tales from their childhood to share. Maybe even a few that their grandchildren request to hear again and again at every family gathering. Storytelling seems to be a lost art in our current generation, but maybe that is because children have so little time to build memories worthy of repeating. Perhaps our children need more time when the most interesting thing to do is aggravate an old crab on the banks of Plum Creek.

This is a reprint of an entry from my old blog and was published in The Gift Of Family Writing by Jill Novak.

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0 thoughts on “Building Childhood Memories

  1. It makes you realize how little a child needs to find joy. We were tickled that Laura Ingalls was speechless when she found pure, white sugar in her Christmas stocking – our kids willingly avoid white sugar.

  2. Yes, I loved all those “little things” shared in the books. But kids need time to notice, too. Time to just sit and daydream and wonder.

  3. Our kids love to go outside and play. They’re constantly making up games, usually derived from some recent event in their lives. Once, I went out to do some yardwork and found these small cardboard boxes, with yarn, and a few dollhouse items, in various locales in the yard. After inquiring with my daughters, I was informed that those were “fairy houses” for the fairies to use overnight.

    The concept goes beyond just times at home, as well. On a vacation up to California’s Gold Country, a few years ago, we had the opportunity to visit the spot (Coloma, CA) where gold was discovered. After the trip, I asked my oldest what her favorite part of the trip was and she said it was when we had taken the time to walk down to the river, there in Coloma, and pan for gold using the gold pan she had purchased with her own money.

  4. Thanks, Shawna!

    Rusty, those times are precious. Children’s imaginations need that time…they use it in the house, as well, but their constructions are quickly demolished by mom. : (

    The other day, my daughter spent over half an hour just laying in the yard staring at the sky. She couldn’t tell me what she was thinking about all that time, but I figure it was about as important as the thoughts she has while mom is teaching.

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