Children love to listen to stories about their parent’s childhood. The questions children ask range from “what was your favorite ice cream?” to “what games did you play?” Take a moment to think back in time about your best childhood memory.
I remember spending a week with my paternal grandparents. My grandparents lived in an anthracite coal mining town, Ashland, Pennsylvania. It is my birthplace, home of the Pioneer Tunnel and the train ride into the Mahoney Mountain. My father and many male relatives worked in the coal mine. My grandfather was arrested once for picking up coal on mining property. Ashland is a town that had about 7,000 people in 1960. It had a movie theater, football team at the high school, and a main street with many interesting shops, including the Gay Store that sold tiny teaberry cake decorations. My siblings and I would purchase a quarter pound and eat them like candy. Ah, I can taste them now!
One of my 8-year old memories of my week was when I would be given the responsibility to carry money to pay my grandmother’s bills. My errand took me to Centre Street where I stopped at the hat millinery and gave the envelop to the owner and I stopped at the butcher shop and gave an envelope to the butcher. Sometimes my errand was to buy bread at the grocery store. Of course, all of the shop keepers would guess who I was. My father grew up in Ashland and my parents lived there for the first 6 years of their marriage.
My grandmother always gave me a quarter to spend at the Gay Store. Twenty-five cents was a big deal back then. I could buy 25 pieces of penny candy or a quarter pound of teaberry balls. The choices of candy were endless – or so it seemed. Or I could save the quarter and go to watch episodes of Zorro at the Roxy Theater on Saturday!
The best part about my visit was the way my grandmother made me feel. She trusted me to do grownup errands. I felt very responsible and important. She never doubted that I could do the job and complete my mission. These activities provided a boost to my self-esteem, helped build my resilience, and gave me confidence to take risks outside of my comfort zone. Here I am many years later vividly remembering those days of my childhood. They are my childhood roots of adult happiness.
Every one of us has experiences that formed who we are as individuals. Our experiences create our being and purpose, making us who we are as adults. Sharing part of your earliest memories and experiences with your children is essential for them to know you as a person besides being a parent and an adult. Sharing creates opportunities for them to ask questions about your history and what it was like “back in the old days.” It also refreshes your memory about what helped make you the person you are today. While you are sharing you are creating memories for your child about time you spent together. Memories that will last your child’s lifetime!