“Any food with a Star Wars label HAS to go on the conveyor belt first!”
Normally unloading the groceries from the cart to the counter was an avoided job. But somehow with the invention of this new game, it had become a high stakes race not to let a vegetable dare reach the grocery cashier’s hands first.
“Then cookies; next goldfish; and then cereal we like. Mom, your foods can go last.”
I laughed out loud at myself the day that I categorized the groceries by boy-favorites first, almost rushing too much to get them in perfect order on the surging conveyor belt and not disrupt the universe by letting the kale be scanned before the Bug Mac n’ Cheese.
I was shopping alone that day.
I smiled, embarrassed and chuckled secretly to myself. I wondered how many years after they were grown I’d be tempted to keep their tradition and make sure the sweets went first when shopping had become a much lonelier (and cheaper) experience. Maybe I’d be holding onto their childhood just a little bit longer if I honored their silly games and ridiculous habits. Maybe they’d be gone, but it would never end. In that small way, they might always shop with me and their memory keep me company.
This incident made me want to relish the silly ways they contributed to the culture of our house, but not in a way that was just in memory. What tangible ways could I hold onto their creativity?
5 Ways to Hold onto their Childhood
1. Recount highlights from the day each night, lying in bed. Even though we dropped in bed from exhaustion those early years, I felt we fell asleep with smiles on our faces from retelling what cute thing the kids had asked about, mis-understood, or accomplished that day. And we felt closer as parents by reliving these moments, even though one or the other had missed most of the day because of work or appointments. They hadn’t completely missed out.
2. Start a Memory Notebook: Write down anything memorable in a Memory Journal. I got one that has a large spiral binding and blue pages to make it easy to spot on the shelf. I found I wasn’t very good at keeping up with a “baby book” but in the Journal kept weight reports from Dr. visits, lists of “firsts”, funny mispronunciations, impressive moments of understanding. With my first child, I was so unaware of how complex a baby’s thinking and understanding could be. Here is one memory my husband just found: “Today I laid down on the floor and mentioned to J. that my head hurt. Without any further prompting, he put a washcloth on my head, then said the only prayer he knows – “Thank You, God. Amen.” and covered me up with a blanket.” (@2 years, 1 month.) How sweet! How young! Later you can add: trips, friends, injuries, science fair projects, older achievements. I’m glad we preserved these little moments and hints of their character and personality. The tiny moments in life amidst the major milestones.
3. Draw their Stories: In their room, my kids have crafted a whole zany culture of stuffed animals and voices, with interactions with the pets and building blocks that are majestic castles. The corners of their blankets are hand puppets, and craft puffs are living caterpillars afraid of water. If your household is similar, the next time your kids tell you about an ongoing story from the lives of their toys, encourage them to draw a picture of that story, or spend time drawing it with them and stick in it the Memory Notebook. Depending on their age, you could help them write down this epic adventure as well or ask them to write it. Instead of feeling annoyance at a repeated idea, recognize its importance and weight in their mind and feed that by admiring their creativity and immortalizing it. There are hidden kingdoms in the messiness of their rooms I do not want to miss out on.
4. Audio Recordings: If they have a favorite book they like to hear or read, record yourself or them reading it. Mine found a crazy whistle to use for a Page-turn signal and big brother recorded a favorite book for little brother to listen to for a Christmas gift. What about recording the “voices” of their stuffed animals or dolls? You could record these as well as any favorite songs or made up stories, jokes or legends. These also make inexpensive gifts to give to friends or grandparents. Having that young voice recorded long after it has changed will be a special memory.
5. Yearly or Birthday Prayers: Print one for them and file one away for yourself. I know I’ve often wondered, “What kind of kid was I at 5 or 10 or 13? What did I like? What was my attitude toward school? What did I say I was going to be when I grew up at that age?” A yearly crafted prayer or blessing for them is a great opportunity to observe their passions, potential, gifts and character and preserve them in a blessing, asking the Lord to use each of these special qualities for His purposes and Kingdom. What a powerful way for them to view the elements of their personality and talents as well; as gifts to be steered by God to glorify Him. It is a great heritage that they can see what you see in them now and to read again when they grow up.
I am not saying that everything they do is cute and should be left uncorrected. That just because they started a rude habit that it should be held onto. But let’s leave a little time for the legend they want to tell us at bedtime about their stuffed rabbit, and the silly way they want to hop across the “lava” mall floor tiles. Those 2 extra minutes are not wasting life, they are living it with fun. And they are ultimately, short-lived. But if preserved, these memories can be encapsulated and remain with us forever.
If these ideas are useful to you, please share so it will bless someone else today!
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