Tag Archives: #childhoodmemories

Are you simply reading a story or are you making memories?

I stumbled across this image on Facebook the other morning. It made me smile.

Some of my fondest memories of being a child are connected to story time.

My mum read me a bedtime story every night till I was about nine years old. We would go to the library, pick some books, then enjoy them over the next few nights. We worked our way through all of Joan Drake’s Mr Grimpwinkle tales that way. We read story books sent over from the USA by family and enjoyed Bunny Blue’s search for his big pink satin bow many many times. Those stories and many more hold a special place in my heart. The last book she started to read to me at bedtime was Anne of Green Gables. In the middle of reading it, we moved house and somewhere along the line bedtime stories stopped. I had been deemed old enough to read by myself before falling asleep (something that happens every night to this day). We never finished Anne of Green Gables and to this day I have no idea how that story ends.

I remember my Wee Gran reading stories to me from my mum’s old childhood storybooks. These books were second/third hand, well-loved and well-read before my mum was even born but the stories in them are timeless. The books themselves have seen better days but are now around one hundred years old.

My aunt introduced me to a certain cat that sparked a lifelong love of Dr Seuss. Thirty years later, when I visited her with my own kids those books came back out, and they too were introduced to The Cat In The Hat.

When my kids were little, I read to them from the time they were a few weeks old. There were countless storybooks in their rooms. I read them some of the stories from my childhood; I let them discover favourites from their own childhood. We read all about Hairy MacLary from Donaldson’s Dairy and I can still recite most of Each Peach Pear Plum.

You never really know though if those story time memories have stuck with them or not.

As I was thinking about how to approach this blog, Girl Child (now almost 22 years old) was sitting on the couch beside the Christmas tree scrolling through her phone. I asked her if she remembered the story that I used to read to her and her brother around Christmas time about a house rammed to the rafters with visiting family and friends. A house so crowded on Christmas Eve that the baby was put to bed in the sink.

There was a delighted, “Yes! I remember that story!”

My heart swelled,

So, when you’re reading to your little or not so little ones, remember its more than just reading a story to them. You’re actually making memories that last a lifetime.

PS We still have that festive tale. The book is in a box up in my parent’s attic and is called Christmas on Exeter Street.

Seeking a Lost Boy in Kensington Gardens – have you seen him?

P1040596

When I was a little girl, probably around the age of seven or eight, I remember borrowing a copy of Peter Pan from a friend.

I fell in love with the story (maybe that’s why I have never grown up) but I also fell in love with the photo of a statue of Peter Pan that was printed near the front of the book.

After a while I had to give the book back. (I’m not and never have been a collector of other people’s books). I begged my mum to buy me a copy the same as my friend’s but we never found one the same. I was adamant that it had to be the same edition – I wanted the photo of the statue not the shimmery gold cover and pretty drawing of Peter and Wendy.

To this day, I still don’t own a copy of Peter Pan. I never found the right edition.

The statue in question is in Kensington Gardens in London and just over a week ago, some forty years after I first saw the photo of it, I finally got to visit it.

In the flesh (ok, bronze) it was every bit as magical as I’d hoped.

The 14-foot-high statue was commissioned by author JM Barrie around 1910. He provided sculptor Sir George Frampton with a photo of six-year-old Michael Llewelyn Davies to use as the model for Peter. Michael and his three brothers were Barrie’s inspiration for Peter Pan and the Lost Boys. Sir George Frampton however chose to use a different model which ultimately left Barrie somewhat disappointed in the end result.

“It doesn’t show the devil in Peter,” he is quoted as saying at the time.

peter pan inspiration

There was an element of mischief in the unveiling of the statue itself. Barrie chose the site in Kensington Gardens carefully, opting for the spot where Peter Pan first lands after flying out of the nursery window in the 1902 book The Little White Bird. It is also a spot in the gardens that was close to Barrie’s home. The statue was erected during the night of 30 April 1912 and was first on public display on May Day. It was Barrie’s gift to the public. The only thing he didn’t have was permission to put it there!

P1040599

Barrie donated the sculpture to the city of London and it became a Grade II listed building in 1970. It’s been a children’s favourite since it’s first appearance that May Day morning.

 

On a hot June Sunday morning as I spent a few precious moments walking round it, I was transported back to my childhood. The plinth that Peter Pan stands on hosts a myriad of fairy and woodland creatures. I particularly loved the mice. I’m sure you could walk round it a hundred times and see something different every time.

P1040595P1040597P1040598

Time, however, was short. We were on a tight schedule and I had a date to visit another local London children’s fiction landmark. Anyone seen a small bear from Deepest Darkest Peru?

It doesn’t matter how old they get or how tall they grow…treasure every moment

Just-be-a-real-parent-quote-large

When you have children, people often say to you to make the most of the time you have with them when they’re small.

Repeatedly, you’re advised to treasure every moment; treasure every memory; treasure every hug as they grow up way too fast.

Maybe I’m getting a bit sentimental in my old age (who’s old? Not me!) or perhaps it’s the fact that Boy Child is in the last few months of his teenage years or the fact that Girl Child is on the brink of leaving high school but I’ve bene reflecting on things a lot recently. (Lord, maybe I am getting old!)

I’m by no stretch of the imagination a natural mother. I’m not a particularly conventional mother. I’m not even convinced I’ve been a good mother but they’ve both made it this far – whew!- and have grown into sensible young adults – well, most of the time.

I don’t think it matters how old they get or how tall they grow, Boy Child and Girl Child are still my babies.

I’ve watched them take their first tentative steps as toddlers. I’ve waved them off to school. I’ve made endless packed lunches. I’ve sat through countless dance shows, school shows, musical performances. I’ve been to dozens of parent/teacher evenings.

I’ve jumped in waves in the ocean with them. I’ve built sandcastles on the beach with them.

I’ve dragged them through numerous museums – they’ll thank me for it one day.

I’ve introduced them to my favourite foods, favourite films and books.

I’ve introduced them my eclectic taste in music.

But, possibly most important of all here is that I’ve let them make their own minds up about things.

We don’t always enjoy the same meals. We don’t always agree on which film to watch and they both disregard my thoughts on books. (I’ll be honest, that one winds me up a bit.)

As for music, Girl Child is still developing her preferences having journeyed through EMO, Swedish death metal to cheesy pop and, for now, a more indie band sound. Her tastes are more catholic than mine but we occasionally agree on a band or song.  Boy Child too has developed his own tastes and preferences but it’s safe to say we share a lot more common ground.

This was brought home to me earlier this week when I realised that with regards to music we’d come full circle.

Almost six years ago, accompanied by two of my friends, we went to see Iron Maiden at the SECC in Glasgow. It was the first gig he’d been to where we were in the standing arena. The mother in me was anxious to protect her baby boy in this crowd of thousands of rock and metal fans. I stayed close to him all night as we enjoyed the show together.  My friend even commented over coffee the following day how cute it had looked to see us both together, horns up.

Earlier this week, Boy Child and I went back to see Iron Maiden. This time they were  playing in the SSE Hydro in Glasgow, next door to the previous venue. When we arrived about a hour before doors open, we detoured into the SECC to use the facilities and Boy Child commented that he hadn’t been there since the previous Maiden show.

As we stood in the queue, basking in the warm early evening sunshine, outside the Hydro, we counted up how many shows we’d been to together over the years. Twenty six, including the one we were heading in to.

A couple of hours later, as we stood side by side in the crowd watching the support band, Shinedown (love those guys), I stole a glance up at him. My baby boy was still standing beside me, smiling and singing, horns up. I smiled.

An hour or so after that moment, as we were being pushed and jostled and barged about in the midst of the mayhem at the front of the crowd, I realised the roles had reversed. We had come full circle. My Boy Child was protecting me, keeping me close to him and regularly checking that I was OK. My heart melted.

The childhood memories you make with your children are to be treasured.

The ones you make with them when they’re young adults are equally precious.

Treasure them all.

And, yes, we were both still standing together, six years down the line, horns up!