August 3, 2008

Grandparent Gifts And Your/Their Childhood Memories

Dan Beachy-Quick [great name] has a nice, unresolved essay in the NY Times about the relationship between his childhood memories of his father and his own experience as a father himself. The story hinges on his dad's penchant for sending his daughter unexpected gifts.

I noticed on this last trip to visit the grandparents--and the great-grandparent--in Utah, we were more self-conscious about sharing our own childhood memories with the kid: i.e., talking about them and recreating them, transmuting them into the kid's childhood memories.

Not that it doesn't affect them powerfully, but kids don't remember much of anything from the first 2-3 years of life. So for a while, you do some things you do for fun, some for the photo or the video, or for your own memories. Now, some things we do for the kid's experience.

It's not that kind of, "Ooh, the kid'll love Disneyland, and she'll remember it her whole life!" stuff [as if it were possible to forget Disney in this kid culture]. But stuff like hiking the extinct volcano in the red, sandstone mountains behind the house; going to catch candy thrown at a smalltown parade; visiting the willow tree where my great grandfather showed me, a 3-yo city kid, it was alright to pull a carrot from the ground and eat it; checking out the corral where I'd feed the horse, even though there hasn't been a horse in there for 30 years.

Disassembling My Childhood
[nyt]

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