What Will Children Remember From This Time

Carter and I spent a few hours today looking back at photos from her first trip to Italy when she was nine. We spent two weeks in Tuscany and the memories of that trip were still strong for Carter. She could name restaurants we ate at in Lucca and sights we saw in Florence. She relived the horror of seven mile hikes on the Cinque Terre when it was over 100 degrees out, something she has not forgiven me for and exactly where Russ lost his wedding ring.

When I think back to my childhood the memories that stand out the strongest are those of travel. Going to new and special places are seared in my brain, unlike the humdrum of normal days doing things like going to school. I have big swath or memories of doing yard work, or riding my bike or going to the Riding club and going swimming, but I can’t tell you precisely when I did what and at what age.

Trips are different. I can give you exact details of my sixth grade post Christmas trip to Washington, DC. Our bus from Connecticut stopped at the Cherry Hill mall where we ate lunch at a cafeteria and I got red jello squares. We stayed at a Howard Johnson’s across the street from the Watergate, although I did not know it was the Watergate until two years later when I saw it on the news. That Howard Johnson’s had an indoor pool on the top floor and the chlorine was so thick that your eyes stung when you opened the glass door into the pool area.

During summers my family would take the two day drive to Pawleys Island for our vacation. We would stop for lunch on the first day at a Schraff’s on the Baltimore Washington Parkway. I always got the Chef’s salad with French Dressing. If you asked me what I had for lunch any other day of the year I could not tell you, but on a trip in made a lasting memory.

I am wondering what kids growing up during the pandemic are going to remember. Since there are no trips, or very few, and hardly any special occasions that deem family photos, what might get seared in a child’s memory? Will the Pandemic be one big wash of sameness that gets relegated to “nothing much to recall?”

I suggest that for the next few months parents might want to have a couple “special” days where you do things out of the ordinary. My Dad used to surprise us with “Children’s Day” every once in a while. We never knew it was coming, but he would wake us up and announce the surprise, which started with a trip to the international House of Pancakes for breakfast. That alone could have been the whole surprise and we would have been thrilled as we never went out to eat, let alone for breakfast. Breakfast was just the start as we went off to places like Mystic Seaport or the Car show in NYC.

As Carter and I scrolled through thousands of photos today the happiness of travel was the theme. We won’t be traveling much for a while still, so try and discover exciting things at home you have never done. It is the best we can do to make some good lasting memories during this last slog through the pandemic. It would be terrible to have a whole year of no good things to remember.

Happy New Year to you! Or as I have been saying, Happy Better Year!



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