Maybe it’s because I’m feeling maternal and pregnant and all, but I’ve been thinking a lot about parenting which has led me to reflect a decent amount on my own childhood. I’ve discovered that while no one has a perfect childhood, mine was actually pretty good. Sure, I got my feelings hurt, my brother and I occasionally yelled at each other, some of my friends were scared to come over to my house because my mom was so strict that if I was grounded at home, she would follow me around at church (the only outing I was permitted to attend), telling other people not to speak to me because I was grounded… yes, those days also contained a small amount of embarrassment, but overall it was not a bad experience.
My mom let us play non-violent videogames, eat Dorito’s (full of msg) drink soda and run around the neighborhood unattended. We were allowed to climb high trees, catch frogs and shoot bb guns. She only made me wear a dress on Christmas, Easter and if we were flying. We always had a family dinner at home each night, even IF it WAS beef stroganoff (so gross! at the time), but often it was something yummy like chicken tacos or breakfast for dinner. I still LOVE breakfast for dinner, I keep trying to get Davin on board, he thinks it’s lazy (pshhaa, it’s amazing). As kids, my dad had an air horn he’d blow off that we could hear almost a mile away. We were supposto come home when the streetlights came on, but in the summer, when the sun stayed up late, we’d listen for the dinner air horn. Can you imagine if your neighbor blew off an air horn each night around dinner time? Ha! Despite what I’d think today, I genuinely believe our neighbors appreciated it, because then all their kids came home too. I think I’m going to need an airhorn in a few years.
We used to have a homemade go-kart. It was wooden with tires and real breaks. The steering was a rope, and the engine was all us kids giving it a good push until whatever lucky kid was in the drivers seat soared down the hill we lived on. We always had a lookout to make sure no cars were coming, we’d wave them on and then shout to BREAK if we saw anyone coming around the corner. No one ever got run over.
When I think back to my childhood, I realize how lucky I was. My parents didn’t yell all the time like the kids parents a few doors down. Our dad was nice and smiled, and played games with us. My mom let us have GIANT sleepovers and make messes and eat all the food. I always had a special birthday party with my friends and felt important.
I did have to memorize boring spelling words each week, and I was miserable at cursive. And I once got locked out of the house after school. I told both my parents in all seriousness that I knew what it was like to be homeless and not well cared for. Clearly they were entertained and took my picture.
I still print to this day. I refuse to leave my pen stuck to my paper and make hideous curls with my letters. My brother and I have almost the exact same handwriting. Occasionally, I’ll see something he’s written, and I’ll have to examine it more closely to see who’s handwriting it really is. It’s usually some sticky note with directions or a label on it, either way, it reminds me how much we can be like our family without even trying.
My brother is four years younger than I am. Most of my memories are of us playing and going places together.
We got along fairly well for a brother and sister. He’s pretty mellow, so it made it easy. I feel like siblings are a gift. I know at the time they can drive you nuts, but the experience is worth it. I remember my brother getting his monster truck stuck in my hair, booby-trapping my room so I couldn’t come out my door in the morning and “accidentally” chucking a spicy chicken wing INTO my eye. But all in all, totally worth the hassle of a sibling.
We made up so many games as kids. We used to play this game called, fishing, where one of us would get a bunch of toys and put them at on the bottom level of the house. Then the other kid would sit upstairs in the loft with the fishing pole we had made out of a yardstick and some rope and we’d fish for toys. The other kid would tie on a special toy to catch. We would get so excited by whatever toy we caught! How that game never got old I don’t know. I feel like we used to play it for hours.
Once, in 7th grade my parents arranged for us to visit the State Capitol and meet some person of political influence. My mom dressed me, as you can see below… a giant straw hat and a Flags of the Universe sweater. Thank goodness she let me dress myself the rest of my life.
My brother obviously took this event to heart and treated it with great reverence and respect. I think that face was in protest of my outfit. Thanks Aaron!
Another game we used to play, much more dangerous was, Burrito! Burrito! I still can’t believe our parents even let us play it. We’d put one kid on my brothers bed, on the middle of the comforter, then we’d FILL the thing with pillows, stuffed animals, whatever soft items we could find. Then we’d wrap them up, and SHOVE them off the bed yelling, “BURRITO! BURRITO!”. Then they’d hit the ground on their face with a thump and all the soft stuff around them. No one ever got hurt in that game either, which is surprising because my brother had a captains bed and that thing was high. We also used to climb to the top of our closets and drop toys on each other when we walked in, pretending to be ambushed by surprise. Amazing. One time we rigged another booby-trap (we were obsessed with booby-traps) to chuck a ketchup hot dog onto the sad kid who walked into our backyard after we’d called them into the back. I’m not saying we were nice to everyone. I once put a kid into a decent headlock and punched him in the head. Right on the top of his head. I did not know how to fight, just that if someone messed with my little brother, I was going to try my darnedest to kick his butt if he didn’t knock it off after being sufficiently warned. For the record, he ran off crying, and we were in the same grade, so I’d call that a success.
My dad used to make me mow the lawn with our electric mower. I always thought how sorry they’d feel if I actually mowed over the cord and electrocuted myself to death, but I never did. Here’s my best friend Luke and I having a go at the back yard. He was a good buddy. I think I must have Tom Sawyer’d him into helping me;-)
Tonight, I drove to Taco Bell for my own family. We’ve actually never had it for dinner in our house because it’s technically not that healthy and the idea would normally stress me out but I’m pregnant and if the pregnant lady wants two bean burritos, the pregnant lady gets two bean burritos and then some for the kids. Guess who loves Taco Bell? All of my kids. We are related. Davin was even a sport and had some, even though his Taco Bell dinner table memories take him to a different, say smaller room in the house;-) As I was driving, I reflected back on how many times I’d driven to Taco Bell with my mom in our Toyota Tercel Hatchback to get some dinner. Since we weren’t exactly the richest family on the block, my dad being a minister and all, Taco Bell was a treat! We’d feel so special getting to pick two things on the 59 cent menu. Those were the days.
And as I reflect, I think about my own parenting and just how much I worry that I’m getting it wrong. And, I probably am in some ways, but hopefully I’m getting it MOSTLY right. I know my kids are still little, and easily forgive me, but if I think about my imperfect, perfect childhood, and that even in the messed up stuff how God was still there, and took care of me – then I can trust that very same God to parent and take care of my kids too.
We never did an organized family bible study growing up. Christmas was mostly about presents, I had to wait till I was ten to get baptized because my parents wanted to be sure I knew what I was doing. I remember my mom was so mad at me over it, she thought I should wait till I was older, but dad gave me the go and my best friend, Luke and I got baptized on the same day. I remember it vividly because I totally peed in the pool. I never said I was a responsible ten year old, just ten and very nervous… apparently.
You’re welcome internet for that little gem.
I knew what I was doing with the whole baptism idea, I already was serving in my church as the official overhead song mover during worship;-) And I definitely knew who Jesus was because I saw him in my house growing up in my parents. I was raised in church but my mom and dad were the exact same people they were on Sunday that they were on any other day of the week. My parents never pretended anything. That’s how I knew christianity could be real. It was never some performance. My parents trusted God enough to trust us to him, and not pretend to be perfect. I remember if my dad ever messed up somehow, he’d come in and apologize to us, saying, it wasn’t right for him to get upset or whatever and he’d ask myself or my brother and I for forgiveness. I always respected that about my dad, he was the real deal, not perfect, but kinda perfect in my eyes. If I think about it, my parents seemed like they were just themselves, not attempting to be the most-pinterest-ee-blog-ee-facebook-ee best parents on the block. They were just dad and mom and didn’t seem too stressed about getting everything perfect.
When I actually sat down and wrote out my goals as a mother, I was a little surprised they weren’t more spiritual. I guess I expected them to sound more serious and fancy, like “teach the children about God in all the little moments by pointing out that God made the sun to warm our hands annnnd our hearts;-)” Instead we just go on family bike rides and I’ll point to the field full of evening chirping birds and say, “this is my favorite spot, because I like to hear all the birds.” At night we tuck them in, and we say prayers, taking turns sharing our favorite moments of the day and thanking God. When they get scared or feel sick, we pray together, but it’s not a constant bible study all up in here. It’s more like Taco Bell for dinner and Eli and Davin kicking the ball in the house while the girls play dress up. It even includes like threats, “if you get out of bed one more time to go potty, you’re going to loose your favorite blanket!” – stern voice!
Here were my goals when I quick wrote them out:
-To be the mom who encourages her kids dreams, to fully become who God destined them to be, not who I think they should be. (Even if it’s a career in Motocross!)
-To provide a safe, loving peaceful memory-making environment that when my children reflect back on, they have fond memories of home.
-Create memories and traditions, especially outdoors (hiking, beaches, day trips in the woods – we live in a cool place, so this is totally possible.)
Basically I want the home that when my kids come visit from college or life, they come through the door, smell the yummy food in the kitchen and all the peaceful, hilarious and fun memories come back to them from their childhood. That when they lay down on the couch waiting for dinner to be done (because they are so tired from studying in school or riding motocross;), they remember that they are loved, important and valuable in our family and always will be. I want our home to be the number one place where our kids feel encouraged with truth and supported with love (and apparently delicious food). Where they feel safe enough to be honest with their struggles and come to us with questions about life, knowing we will love them no matter what they say, who they are or what they have done.
I guess those are HUGE goals, but I felt that way when I would go home, so maybe it’s possible my kids will feel the same.