Sunday, 4 August 2013

On Childhood

I've been thinking a lot about childhood. This is probably not a huge leap to make, given that I now am in charge of giving one to someone else, but it's taken me by surprise. I had the kind of British childhood people that is much idolised and written about- no money, but lots of fun. Caravan holidays, books in abundance, Sunday afternoon board games and lots and lots of loud music. 

I desperately want our girl to have the same kind of childhood I had (we have no money, so we're halfway there...) but obviously as long as we are here in California it's going to be different. Instead of Kirby on the street and roller boots in the garden, it'll be the park and the beach. Instead of the local leisure centre, it'll be swimming in the apartment pool or the Ocean. She won't have cousins (and second and third cousins...) nearby for the kind of family BBQs that run on til after midnight. She won't go to church ceilidhs where her parents friends will teach her the steps by letting her dance on their feet. The constant sunshine will create totally different memories than mine: of walking to school in the driving rain, rare but magnificent snow days, miserable drizzle as you go shopping, howling wind through attic bedrooms as she listens to the Top 40 on the radio... you get the picture.

Some of these changes are good. There are more we plan on adding- after all, the best thing about having your own kids is fulfilling all the things you wish you could have done as a child. We love camping- I hope that will be a big part of Little Kick's life. We will always have pets- Joanie is a massive part of our family life, and I can't imagine not having furry little friends in the house. We also both love sport, and go to a lot of Dodgers games (because tickets are cheap, let's face it...) and we will almost certainly continue that with Kick. And I'll keep up some of the things my family did with us- discussing world news at the dinner table and expecting us to have an opinion (even if you are 4 years old,) after school trips to the library, hand made costumes for fancy dress parties. My grandad would make us figure out long words for ourselves by working out the latin root; it works- I still do it. She'll have to get good at general knowledge or my aunts will never pick her to be on their quiz team on Christmas day.

I'm sure my parents and sibings will be happy to ensure Kick has a lot of these experiences. She'll have long summers in the UK, ideally in a Caravan in North Yorkshire, games of Scrabble and Boggle where no one goes easy on her because that way she'll learn. There will be Motown and ABBA classics belting out the car stereo, old episodes of Poirot on TV and lots and lots of stories.  

It's easy to get nostalgic about the kind of experiences you had, and I am almost certainly doing it right now. At the end of the day, the world has moved on, and husband and I don't spend our evenings the way our parents did- too many laptops and kindles and phones to be played with- none of which existed when I was growing up (my husband's first mobile phone took double A batteries. Seriously.) Lord knows what kind of kit Little Kick will have at her disposal that is better than talking to her boring old parents... 

What bits of your childhood do you want to preserve? Anything you really want to make sure your kids don't do? (I'm looking at you, Saturday afternoon garden centre trips...) I'm so interested to hear the traditions other people have- I may have to borrow them...


  1. I love this post. Absolutely love it. I was nodding yes, yes, as I read it. Your childhood sounds divine. Is it sterotyping that I was picturing you wandering around in the professor's mansion on rainy days discovering wardrobes that led to Narnia? What? No? You didn't do that?!?

    I've also been thinking about what kind of childhood we want our baby to have. That's what's pushing us to imagine moving away from LA (don't worry, not any time soon). But we keep picturing our boy roaming around the woods on our property with Monte Version2 and exploring nature. I worry too about the addiction to smart phones and mobile devices and what not...especially with an addicted mamma and a daddy who makes his living in software development. Eeek. I also don't want him to grow up getting stuck in some of the "categories" of attending public schools in LA. But then I don't know how I feel about private schools? Agh. So who knows.

    My childhood memories? They include riding my horse through the fields and jumping into mountain lakes and going on road trips with our family and playing Monopoly at Christmas time. I hope I can re-create some of it :)

    1. Oh Lord, you can never come to visit us in Scotland, you would be SO disappointed! I grew up in a beautiful Victorian home, yes, but it was an apartment. With a shared garden and young professional couples as neighbours. We moved to a semi-detached bungalow when I was 11.

      Being catholic makes the public/private discussion kind of easier for us. It'll be public Catholic school in the UK, private in the US, although I think you escape a lot of the private school trappings with a parochial school here. It's hard though.

      Road trips are a definite thing to add to her childhood- we used to drive to Wales or Cornwall for holidays (only 10-12 hours, so short by US standards) and I LOVED it.

  2. I'm not pregnant (or planning to be for a while) and yet I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about this and informing my husband how things will be when we have a family!

    It makes me sad that we will never provide the same childhood as we had - we won't live in the country or a mile from the sea. We won't be able to let our kids make dens deep in the woods for hours, expecting them home when they get hungry. And we won't live close enough to their grandparents for dried up roast beef dinners on Sundays, or for them to be best friends with their cousins.

    Hopefully, we can give them the best of both worlds though. The advantages of being in or near a city (cinemas, more than one clothes shop, concerts, theatres, culture) and an appreciation of the countryside and coast (fresh air, wildlife, long walks, more freedom).

    1. I think that's what we're hoping too- the best of both, but given that I grew up in a big town, it's more the best of Britain and the US. It's hard for me to accept that she will be British AND American, and I have to make sure I allow her to explore her American side as much as her British one.

      Not having grandparents nearby breaks my heart a little (oh the roast dinners... what I would do for my Gran's yorkshire puddings.) My Gran and Grandad were such an important part of my life, my whole families lives. Aunties and Uncles and cousins too. If we were ever to move home, that'd be the reason.


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