I was coaching a couple yesterday around creating memories for their kids. If you’re a parent, you’re creating memories everyday. Once in awhile it’s good to just sit back and become more conscious of how our kids might look back at their childhood. Is it in line with how we’d like them to remember their early years? What kinds of things are they likely to remember? What are the things that are going to stand out? We might be surprised when they grew up to learn of the things they remember with the most fondness. Often too, memories that are lasting are ones we least expect to remain with them.
I asked my clients to recall their favourite childhood memories. As I anticipated, they remember the simple fun and unstructured family time. They remember things they did with their friends where there were no adults in charge. I asked my husband what he thought our kids would remember with the most fondness. We both guessed it was when we went camping. They could play on their own in the nearby playground, help build the campfire, find interesting things in the forest, play games at the picnic table at night by candle light……
I asked our two youngest who are now young adults what their happiest memories were of their childhood and indeed, on their list was camping. My son remembers the street hockey games everyday after school. Whoever in the neighborhod wanted to play, was welcome. Weather permitting, he played for several years. He would come home from school and immediately set up the goalie net in front of our garage. When he was 11 he started playing organized hockey with the local minor hockey league. My daughter remembers too, playing outside with the kids in the neighborhood after school. They all organized their own activities. There were the races she organized, the lemonade stands, the games in the grassy field…. With her there was always lots of pretending.
When I look back at my own childhood, the things that stand out for me are spending time in the summers at our cabin on the lake, bike riding with my friends, playing kick the can after dinner, summer vacations in Seaside, Oregon. We always stayed in beautiful hotels and ordered room service when we travelled. That was my dad’s style. It was nice but we didn’t appreciate it at the time. What we loved the most was the simple things that just happened; that weren’t organized by an adult.
Somewhere along the way we seem to have lost a lot of those simple pleasures that create so much joy with kids. With what seems like the take over of technology and ready-made gadgets there doesn’t seem to be the same opportunities to create and explore freely. Are our kids missing out on old fashioned fun? We’ve also become paranoid that if we allow them to play outside unsupervised, they won’t be safe. I wonder what the long term consequence of all of this will be.