Childhood Memories

“The Little Things”

We’ve had a lot of rain lately. A lot. The other day, there were puddles everywhere, reminding me of times our parents would allow Dave and I to jump in puddles when we were young. Our friends would join us or we’d join them if they got to the street or our front yards first. Why was it so much fun!?

Wondering if others remember simple parts of their childhood, I posted the question on Facebook. Here are friends’ responses. Reading them encouraged me greatly and I think you might be encouraged, too.

Children like simple things. They remember simple things. Routines create security and establish relationships that result in love.

So many of today’s parents are caught up in the next-greatest-thing lie. They think their children have to have huge birthday parties. They have to have the best dress. Parents believe buying them the best tech as soon as it’s available will establish something. I’m not convinced.

With Mother’s Day approaching, let me remind you that often the simpler the better.

If you choose to read these, they’re posted in the order they showed up on my post and these are my friends’ own words. You’ll notice some patterns; I don’t need to point them out to you.

I’d love to know if this encourages you like it does me. To the mothers reading this – Happy Mother’s Day! Simplify, simplify, simplify … be encouraged!

What are some of the little things you remember from your childhood that maybe weren’t so little after all?

Every Sunday morning my Dad made cinnamon toast for me and my sister while Mom got ready for church. Every Sunday….

The smell of my mom’s coffee and Pine-sol on a Saturday morning.

Sitting next to my mom after she would take a bath and read her newspaper. She also smelled of Love’s Baby Soft lemon scent

Every Sunday evening before dropping us off at our moms, my dad would take me and my sister to Dunkin Donuts for “Souper Specials” – it’s was a bowl of soup and a donut for like a dollar. Back when they made soup AND fresh donuts on site! It was GREAT!!

The bond between my grandma and me and how she had these special pastel mint candies that she would only share with me and my cousin.

Dad playing guitar on the weekends. My sister and I couldn’t go “dance” while he played, until our baths were done.

Holidays at grandparents….we would cram 30+ people in their tiny house and NEVER felt cramped.

When I would ask my dad to stay close by when I was falling asleep. He’d crawl into my bed, and his presence calmed me down so I could sleep. (Sweet memory since he passed away when I was in high school.) Also I remember being rocked by my mom as an infant (I have memories back to six months) and she’d sing hymns and songs like “Jesus Loves Me” in a quiet, soothing voice. My brothers and I would spend every waking minute after school outside until we were called in for dinner.

When we lived with my grandparents through my papaw’s chemo treatment, I would wake up to one of two things. The smell of Papaw’s coffee and finding them sitting in their rockers reading their Bibles or if it were a little later, they would be playing the banjo and mandolin together.

My parents holding hands wherever we went.

I remember when the power would go out we would all hang out in the living room and talk or play games.

Going to sleep in the summer with the window open and having a cool breeze blowing over me. It was quiet outside and my parents were peaceful inside.

Eating nectarines and vanilla ice cream at my grandparent’s house in the hot summer California sun.

My dad singing “good morning, my babies, good mooooorning, my babies” every morning in our doorway when trying to wake us up before school. I thought it was so dumb and annoying as a kid/teen and now it just makes me weepy thinking of it because it’s very unlike his personality to ever sing lol. He’s a good dad and I don’t take it for granted.

Going to my grandparents’ house for a few weeks in the summer and catching fireflies while the adults were on the porch talking.

Going to get chocolate long john donuts and chocolate milk with my grandma or dad.

Sitting in church next to my dad and listening to him sing the old hymns. Swinging and singing in my tree swing hung by my dad. See any pattern here?

Napping on my dad’s lap after church every Sunday. I still miss that. I remember the night that I had a bad dream and instead of asking if I could sleep with my parents, I asked my mom to pray over me and I felt so much better.

Have you already recognized some patterns in these responses?

When my mother had a detached retina and was in the hospital for what seemed a long long time (I was 5). Relatives and church families took care of us after school until my dad came home from work. We could only see mom about once a week, and it was a long long trip (remember–I was 5). When we visited her, the nurses in the NYC hospital sang Jesus Loves Me in Spanish to us and also Power In The Blood. Mom had to lay totally still (this was in the 1060s), and we had to be very quiet. She ended up losing her sight in that eye (and 1/2 in the other eye some years later), but she made us loop leather belts while she was in therapy.

Having a “party” with my Grandaddy. It was really just a bowl of vanilla ice cream with peanuts and hershey’s syrup, but the memories and wisdom I gleaned. What I would not give to have one more bowl with that fine man.

Picking Strawberries with my Papa, just me and him. July 4th making homemade ice cream with him too. I still make it every year with my kids.

Staying with my great aunt Joyce. She always cut up bananas in my cereal and made Rice Krispies treats with me… every. Single. Time I stayed with her.

Hearing Dad’s truck leave early in the morning for work while still in bed. It didn’t seem important until it was gone and I didn’t have my “family” anymore.

Bologna sandwiches with my grandmother after church. I’ve never liked them anywhere else. And Sunday evening we would watch “Wonderful World of Disney”.

Sitting in my dad’s lap while he read Bible stories to me.

Laughing with my mom, she would trap me and tickle me making me laugh till I had no breath. And most affectionately singing songs of God with her playing the piano

1) My dad taking the time to teach me how to help him work on things. I was just hanging out with him, now I can fix many things on my own, but I don’t have to, I can walk along someone and help them as well. I’ve met a lot of people who don’t know how to help, they know how to step in and try to take over but not how to just be there.
2) The times my parents would take care of older people in the hospital, now myself and my siblings know how to sit in a hospital and help. Our policy is no one should be in the hospital by themselves. It serves everyone well. To our family it’s never been a big deal to go sit at the hospital or go clean the house for someone who just had a baby. It was just something my parents did…not many people are willing.

The smell of fresh coffee while walking down my grandmother’s staircase in the early mornings

1.) Mom doing creative things for us on a broke budget – game night, picnics in the living room, camping 2.) My granddaddy letting me drive his pickup truck out on farm roads at age 9!

Security of being with family at church Sun morning, Sun afternoon rides & Sun evening church & Wed nights. I was loved by our church family too

Reading the Bible together as a family after dinner EACH day.

How would you have answered my question about little things from your childhood?

So so much! Eating saltines my great aunt brought every week, with my cousins, through LONG sermons. Oh the crumbs! Lol! Holidays, camping, games, puzzles with extended family. When Grandma told Grandpa it was time to order from the Colonel’s….that meant KFC for any relatives gathering in her dining room. Dancing with Grandpa at Oktoberfests. But the most important thing that ever happened in my childhood, hit me so unexpectedly I knew it mattered forever. I was 10. I had moved cross country after my parents’ divorce. It was the first day of school. My darling Grandpa who I hardly knew or remembered at that point looked at me walking down the stairs all dressed in new clothes. Like it was the most natural statement in the world, he said “Don’t you look pretty.” Now for him, having raised 3 daughters, it was a natural thing. For me though, it was monumental. No one who mattered had ever said anything quite like that in that way to me. From then until his death my Grandpa loved me and poured into my life in such amazing ways. It changed me forever and I am so grateful for him.

Mom always being home and there for us. Dad dropping everything to be with us.

being on the farm – feeding calves, the fresh smell of silage, catching frogs, playing in the hayloft, running through fresh washed sheets on the line, drinking water from the hand pump in the front yard, riding bike on gravel road.

Mom making me bunny shaped pancakes. I’ve tried it for my little back in the day but it’s harder than it looks. More work than she had to out in to make my breakfast.

Watching my father leave for work promptly at 7AM for work…arrive home at 5:30….cut the yard on Saturday…prepare for church Sunday night and attend church on Sunday. Consistently….rain or shine.

Unconditional love from my mom and dad, Sunday school & church every Sunday, church potlucks, roller-skating, biking, swinging on the backyard swing, running back and forth to the houses of neighborhood friends

Gathering at my Grandmother’s house with extended family. The adults would play cards and we kids would play together for hours.

Mom and Dad were at every sporting event we participated in. They never missed a game, home or away.

Sunday suppers

Baking with my Grandma

Making homemade ice cream and the kids got to take turns turning the crank

Getting a little golden book for almost every special day (Easter, Christmas, birthdays etc.)

Eating meals together at the table. No TV.

We were at an away basketball tournament and my parents could tell I was sad about something. I assured them I’d be fine, someone had just said something earlier in the day to embarrass me. I had to stay and ride home with the team so it was very late when I got in…around 1:00 am…my parents were still up and waiting to listen to whatever I wanted to share. I felt kind of silly because it wasn’t “that big of a deal”…but the fact that they waited up for me WAS a big deal and I’ve never forgotten how much it meant. · 

I used to go on long walks with my grandmother. She walked daily for her health, but I loved joining her. We talked, or walked in comfortable silence, and that tradition carried over when we went to the beach in the summer. I grew to appreciate a good long walk, and can still hear her voice and her laugh in my mind.

My mother making oatmeal for me every morning before school, sewing special dresses for me, covering my Valentine shoe box in red velvet with lace and ribbon. My dad covering my textbooks with brown paper bags that lasted the entire year!

Hot summer nights, listening to the Detroit Tigers baseball game on the radio on the screened in front porch. Neighbors dropping in for iced tea and to listen to the Tiger game.


A grandma’s hug

What are you thinking you’ll do differently because of what you’re reading?

Sitting in the backyard under a tree and talking with my parents. Playing Yahtzee or Bible trivia late in the evening with them. I was an only child and my dad was (and still is) a Bible teacher so Bible trivia gave us a great opportunity to talk about the Bible as a kid. (I still enjoy studying scripture to this day.)

My sweet daddy made us slow down at the dinner table. He talked to us and listened to us. He taught us how to be polite and kind to each other at the table. We had to ask to be excused and it was imperative that we be a team to get dinner cleaned up. Simple, but unforgettable.

Fried walleye and dumplings at Grandma’s. Homemade poor man’s peanut butter fudge with mom.

Mother Daughter banquets at church where you dress in themed clothing/costumes. …Taking Christmas gifts and food to a family in need even though my single mom’s income was below poverty level herself.

My mom making Cream Chipped beef (which was thin lunch meat) over toast. It also had peas in it & we would have it about 3 times a week. Little did I know it was because that’s what worked for my parents budget! To this day, I don’t like peas & I’m not a fan of Carl budding lunch meats…lol So, I also didn’t feed my kids peas either.

Putting up Christmas lights with my dad in the freezing cold.

Learning how to make a bed and cutting the corners of the sheets. My mom would make my bed with me and then, when I got older, would inspect my work to be sure it was done right. So many life lessons in that.

Oh, I have so much enjoyed reading every single one of these memories!! I remember singing all the old songs and hymns while we were on road trips, especially at night. We ate dinner together every night, even if it was at 4:30 because Dad had to start his second job at 5:00. We were trained to serve others; I tell people I grew up in a church kitchen! We were also trained to cherish the elderly, often visiting one particular childless couple after church on Sundays. Also, my dad made pancakes or waffles for breakfast on Saturdays and scrambled eggs on Sundays. Just a sampling!

My nana warming pancake syrup and butter together in a little red syrup butter warmer on the stove when she made us waffles for breakfast when we had sleepovers (which was a few weekends a month)

Psalty video tapes and audio tapes. And Brentwood kids. Rappin’ Rabbit was one of my favorites. I will sometimes now listen to it on YouTube. That one and wake up you sleepyhead.

We did a lot of traveling and I liked when we had picnic lunches or even better those special times when we had fast food. I also loved when we slept in the tent. Later I learned we used the tent when we couldn’t afford a motel.

Sunday lunch almost every Sunday after church at my grandparents’ – all crowded around the kids’ table with my cousins. I miss those days tremendously.

My mom and dad would pile all 4 of us in the car to go to the drive-in movie. We’d take a Coleman thermos of Red Koolaid and the little color tumblers and mom would pop and fill a paper bag with popcorn. It cost $1 per carload to get in. I had no idea we were poor. I thought everybody did this! Saw Swiss Family Robinson!

1. We ate supper as a family every night 2. My older sister and I each got a week alone with grandparents every summer when we lived just a few hours away. She went one week and I The next. Priceless memories

My Granner taking me to the library on Saturday morning for storytelling time. My Mom doing themed birthday parties when back then that meant you had to make it all.

Swimming all day long at the pool during the summer, then coming home and making a banana sandwich—white bread, mayonnaise, and banana.

Coffee breaks with my grandparents on the weekends when dad had me. they’d have coffee and I’d have lemonade and we’d all dip cookies in our drinks!

My dad sitting on the couch reading his Bible. He often left it on the arm of the couch when he was done. Now that I am a parent I realize what an awesome quiet example he was being

How would you love your children to be able to answer my question about little things from their childhood?

Reading aloud as a family. We discovered many classic stories together, and I truly treasure that. I tried to do the same with my boys.

The good humor man coming around in the summer

My Grandparents gave me my first Bible when I was 8 years old. It was the kind that my siblings had received for good attendance at Sunday School. They knew how much I wanted a Bible like my siblings but was sad because I had been in the hospital and missed Sunday School. My Grandparents were not wealthy and had 35 grandchildren at the time. It was a big deal for them to give a Christmas present, because they didn’t give their grandkids gifts, there were just too many of us.

Grandpa would take us out into the woods to collect Maple sap. We’d all pile into the back of a trailer, pulled by a small tractor. He’d let us have a taste of the sap. I think we were more hindrance than a help. But we sure loved and were loved by Grandpa. Grandma would make bread on her Mondays, her Laundry Day. The smell of bleach or bread baking takes me back. She would let me help her sift flour into the bread dough.

Spending Saturday from sun up to sun down riding horses with my Daddy. We would ride to a convenience store and tie our horses up behind it and grab lunch and snacks, then we’d always end up at his friend Dusty’s house.  I’d chase goats, love on new born barn kittens and help feed all of Dusty’s animals. Then we’d get our horses back to their pens, feed brush and put them away. We lived with my grandparents after his and my mom’s divorce, so Grannie & Pawpaw would have dinner ready when we got home. I’d eat and watch The Golden Girls with PawPaw, go to bed and look forward to doing it all over again the next Saturday that fell on my Daddy’s visitation. I’d give just about anything for one more Saturday ride like that just talking about life!

Carrying a pocket knife

Winning the Pinewood Derby…twice! And my dad was there to see it both times.

The way my mother cooked every meal. We seldom ate takeout and when we did, it made it more special for that as well. I also remember how my mom always gave her time at the schools I was at and helped out with class parties. I remember once when I was so upset to not get to do what the neighborhood kids were doing in the evening and my mom got out a coloring book and new crayons and sat with me to color. At 44 and I still remember that. I was probably 6ish when that happened. My dad taught us kids to wash the cars and left us to it and didn’t hover. He did inspect afterwards and would show us how to do what we didn’t do better.

Church every Sunday and every Wednesday as a family.

When my brother played sports my mom made me a cheer outfit to match his team and we always went and cheered as a family. At my dance recitals my dad always had flowers for me.

Walking through the door and seeing ‘the’ cookie bowl in the dish drainer! Yummy things awaited us. I have that bowl now. My sis forever bringing a dog home who wouldn’t get that big mom! There is 7 years between me and my next sibling (I am youngest). I was basically an only child. I fondly remember laughing with my parents and their friends as we all played cards. I learned to bake at a young age. Saturdays were my baking days. Bread, rolls, cookies-you name it. Mom would be at the table and we played Scrabble while I baked. Lots of TIME well spent.

I was in preschool & very proud the first time I made tuna salad sandwiches with my mom. I liked having time with just her when my big sis was in school.

Me and my brothers had TV trays with carebears on them. We would eat Campbells tomato soup in front of the TV sitting on the floor and our kitten would try to lick our milk cups after. It’s just such a sweet memory for me.

Making homemade Christmas cookies for all the neighbors with my mom. Going to the local flea market with just my dad. We would stop and get a donut. We would eat piñon nuts from the shell. I don’t even remember conversation but I smile thinking about those memories

Dinner at my grandparents’ house. It seemed like a small thing back then, but I really cherish the time I had with them now that they are gone.

Cuddling with my mom when she read me books before bed. She worked nights & slept during the day…so this was our special time together.

My pillow held so many memories, secrets, laughter and tears

If your parents are alive, is there anything you want to tell them because of what you’re reading?

My dad lingering & chatting at my bed before falling asleep.

So many wonderful memories…I grew up living with my parents (we lived upstairs in our farmhouse) and my grandparents who lived downstairs. I would have breakfast upstairs and then went downstairs to play, read with my Grandma and do puzzles with my Grandpa. We always listened to WLPO at 5pm…polka music! In good weather, I was allowed to wander the farm pastures, glen, down by the creek, and area around house and barn. There were several dozen huge trees, mostly maple and elms that were nearly 100 years old when I was born, with enormous circumference of over 30 feet. I liked to play cowboy and Indian with myself, running from tree to tree.

Taking walks with mom, bike rides with my mom & grandmother.

My Granny waiting on the porch for us to visit. No matter the weather, there she’d be standing there waiting & grinning ear to ear.

My grandpa making jokes, pretending to steal our pie after dinner, my grandma’s tireless preparations and cleaning up (that she made look so easy). And I never heard her criticize, condemn or complain. My dad reading to us – like the hiding place (corrie ten boom), the cross and the switchblade, books that told stories about faith and other cultures and showed a bigger picture of God.  My parents paying for music lessons and setting up lessons an hour away when I outgrew my local teacher.

Being able to run around the neighborhood and my parents not worrying about my safety.

The fact that, at any party, or at any meeting, in any setting, all I had to do was touch his shoulder and my dad would immediately stop anything he was doing or any conversation he was in and focus all his attention on me and what I needed.

My friends that have stuck with me through everything and helped to keep God’s word in my heart. they’re always here for me even to this day and I’ll never forget any of them and how much time and effort they’ve put into making sure I know God loves me and they love me too.

Knowing all my neighbors- I knew if there was ever a lick of trouble, we could go to them for help. No matter what. We were all poor, lived in a bad area, but we were all decent, hardworking people that looked out for each other’s families. It seemed so natural, so normal to me back then that I didn’t give it a second thought. I would give my right arm to have that today in my “middle class, safe” neighborhood where we feel so totally isolated from everyone in our neighborhood

Eating dinner every night as a family at the table without technology. Homework together at the table while Dad studied the Bible

We lived in a “new” suburb of Chicago, Streamwood, and moved into a brand new house, with the street behind us unfinished. It stayed that way for at least 6 or 7 more years (I was 5 when we arrived). So behind us was an open field, a pond, a creek and a big barn that held construction supplies. We explored that field, pond, creek and even broke into the construction site sometimes to “explore”. Frogs, toads, snakes, turtles, crawfish, injured or baby birds, these were some of the creatures I brought home to my family’s mixed reactions. (My dad came home to find a foot long turtle in the bathtub by taking a shower, my mom had to endure when my pet snake “Thor” had dozens of live birth babies . . while lost in the house. We changed “Thor” to “Marie” after my mom once we discovered the error. Still, finding little baby snakes for weeks afterward roaming around the basement.) We have a creek behind us in Colorado where we live now, and I have never seen or heard a frog there, and found out the Northern Leopard frog is extinct in California, and endangered here. So I recognize my Tom Sawyer childhood could be something future generations can’t experience.

One summer my dad was home every afternoon, and we walked down the street and bought .25 popsicles. I remember thinking it was the best summer ever. Years later, i learned that my dad had been laid off from his job—that was why he was home so much. He’d go out and job hunt, then come home and walk with me. That .25 popsicle was all he could afford. I had no idea. All I knew was that we were spending time together. I still remember that as one of my favorite summers.

Playing in the mud and catching pollywogs and watching them turn into frogs. Feeding our fish grasshoppers in the big old tub that my dad made into a fish tank for fish he caught

Not all “little things” were good things

I need to acknowledge two negative comments. One friend wrote:

  • How the newscast was more important than family. Someone responded: Same here! My Dad yelled at us if we talked while it was on.

Let’s be careful. I’m sad for these two. The news was very important to my parents, but I don’t remember ever feeling this from them. What might your children say about your attention to the news, your favorite shows, or a movie you’re watching??

And here’s one that concerns me much more:

  • Being in fear every day of my life that I would be beat up at school by the boys that didn’t like me because I was different. I suffered from extreme anxiety and insomnia at night fearing school the next day. I experienced rejection and alienation. I grew up in fear and alone much of the time because no one, including me, understood what I was going through. These are things in my childhood that weren’t so little. Life in childhood isn’t always pleasant for those of us who fell between the cracks and were left out to fend for themselves.

I hear about this from adults who are still struggling – are you aware that PTSD is real for some? Yes, it is. And, I hear about it from teens and children. We can do better. So much better! I pray you’re available to your children so if they’re struggling, you know and you help them process what’s going on and do more if they want you to. As important, we must know if our children are the ones doing the bullying. Are they prideful? Fearful? Angry? Please, please, please intervene if you have any suspicion (not even evidence) that your children are causing this kind of pain for others. Do not allow it to continue.

————- Did you make it this far?! Fabulous. Impressive. Let me know your thoughts. I’d truly love to know what you