When you tell people that you have 4 children, there’s usually the stereotypical ‘wow you’ve got your hands full’ response.
Yet as they walk away you can hear the ‘what a shame, they must never get one-on-one time’.
Well they do so ner to the nay-sayers!
And its that thought that brings me to today’s point (yes these posts do sometimes have a point).
Its very often that you hear the phrases ‘precious family time’ and ‘making memories’ thrown around, especially in this age of social media.
But, it’s important to remember that the things that mean the most to children are not always things that can be explained in a Facebook post, or hash tagged in an Instagram snap.
An expensive day trip with added extras may seem like a massive treat from our perspective, but if a child has had a bad day at school the day before and is furtively hoping for a few quiet minutes to discuss it with you. Then this busy trip would not be welcome or appreciated leading to disappointment from both sides.
Having memories is wonderful and incredibly important. But looking back it suddenly becomes clear that the things that we, as adults, remember from our childhood are not necessarily the big events, but more likely snapshots of a funny moment or a treasured smile.
We don’t ‘make memories’ they make themselves. They are spontaneous and we may not know that they have happened until years later when we suddenly recall a random event that makes us smile or laugh or cry all over again.
Memories have the uncanny ability of turning up when they are needed, whether we appreciate their appearance or not. But they serve a purpose, without them we are not a whole person; a character that’s portrayed in a book needs a past, a present and a future to enable the reader to connect with them as a three dimensional being and the same is true with us.
I feel that I have the authority to make these points as the daughter of a lady who, through the need for medical treatment, lost the majority of her long term memories. She was still a character in her own story but she couldn’t flick back the pages of her mind to remind herself of details. She lost her past and the part she played in our past. Moments that could never be recaptured.
I think this is why when it comes to the Monkeys, I’m very much aware that the things they store away in their memories may not be the things I have planned and scripted as a ‘memory making’ exercise.
Take today for example.
Noodle has a new musical obsession which is out of the realms of most typical 6 year olds.
Because I am stingy I refused to pay the extortionate costs of downloading the tracks he wanted, so he suggested that we could go and look in the local charity shops and check through their CDs and I agreed.
CircusHusband needed to pick up a package in town so we all headed out and parted ways (in other words he bribed the remaining Monkeys with the promise of snacks at Gregg’s if they complied)
Noodle and I went off on our mission. The fun we had browsing through hundreds of CDs was ridiculous and the excitement when I found a compilation album with a track by his new favourite singer was unbelievable. I’ll leave you to picture a high-fiving session in the middle of Cancer Research!
It was a short outing. We spent precisely £3. Yet Noodle was so happy he was skipping down the pavement.
Those few moments right there. Just me and him. Will stay with me always and I know that he’ll remember the day we went and did exactly what he wanted. Just for him.
Yes I have my hands full but sometimes (as often as I can) I have two completely empty hands ready to support whichever Monkey requires one-on-one. Today it was Noodle and CD’s, next time will be something just as random yet just as vitally important in a child’s uncomplicated opinion.
I am a long way from a perfect parent and I don’t, in any way, profess to know the secrets of parenting (seriously, is it like the magicians secret circle or something? Is there a special handshake?). The only thing I know is that children are simple and they like the simple things, it’s only as we grow up that we start to make things complicated
If I could give a new parent one piece of advice, it would be;
Don’t waste so much energy forcing memories that you’ve none left to actually make the real ones.
Welcome to my world