Structure Sunday: The Structure of Childhood Memories

Childhood memories are an important part of who we are. It is up to parents to engineer varied and happy memories into their children's lives. This weekend we went down memory lane by virtue of hosting a wedding reception for the son of some of our closet friends. You would not think a wedding would focus a great deal on childhood memories. And yet, this weekend, it was a veritable memory fest. Of course there was the requisite slideshow of the childhood pictures of both bride and groom. But more than that, at the reception, clusters of conversations ensued, conversations between people who had done much together as children but little recently as adults. 

My extended family is large and we ourselves have three grown children. But, and this is one major point of this post, we have so many friends who are like family. These are families we have known for 20 to 30 years, and whose children have grown up with ours. Back in the day, we gravitated toward them because they were good and interesting people. More than that, they were creative and adventurous, and despite the fact that we were college students of modest means, we had adventures: us, our kids, our friends and their kids. These people have stayed our good friends all this long while. It feels like a tribe, or the proverbial village, the village it takes to raise a child. 

These adventures we had took time, planning and some wherewithal, but it all paid off in ways which we did not then entirely anticipate. Today we have grown kids who sit around the table and marvel at all they got to do as children. We look at old pictures and tell tales of glory. They know their experiences have shaped them. These children have grown to be inventive and resilient from their experiences. These are two of the greatest gifts a child can have. And now they are taking their kids out too.

It is fewer and fewer kids who have these experiences of rafting, camping, hiking or traveling for the sake of seeing a new place. I am writing to encourage you to find good people for your village. Find them and set off on adventures. You will have to take time off work, plan, get some gear, and maybe even learn a few new things. But that's all part of it. Go make some great memories for yourself and your children. You will get more out of it than you realize.