This weekend my husband and I treated our kids to ice cream at Dairy Queen as part of our little guy’s birthday celebration weekend. As we sat around the table with our cool treats, our 8-year-old, with a twinkle in his eyes, requested, “Tell us again how much trouble we used to be!” His brother and sister cheered in agreement.
After making the obligatory comments about how much trouble they still are, my husband and I searched our memories to recall the days when our children were much littler, too little for them to remember. We told them about the time we drove up and down I-16 in the middle of the night in a desperate attempt to get our firstborn to sleep. And how our second child used to ask for every single truck he saw. And how our youngest had to be fed with a tiny cup as an infant because he had such a hard time learning to nurse.
The kids all laughed, sparkling, and begged for more. We talked about words they each used to say in funny, little kid ways. “Tuppatopper” for helicopter, “panpake” for pancake, and “app” for pacifier.
My children love these stories, just as they love looking at old photos of themselves. This is our family lore, our family story unfolded even as it unfolds. It is a way for the kids to appreciate their special role and history within our family. Maybe even a way to know themselves a bit better. In a sense, as parents we have known our kids longer than they have, and they treasure our stories that give them a glimpse of their younger selves.
I love that these stories can be a gift to my children. I also love that even difficult situations, which could be so trying at the time, are being redeemed and enjoyed, becoming a glue that bonds us together even more with the benefit of time’s passing. And I love that in laughing at yesterday’s trials, we find some strength for struggles to come.