Examining your own childhood could be a guide to the kind of parent you want to be.
When I was young I kept a journal and soldiered on for three days, writing down my thoughts and observations in a school exercise book.
Afterwards I gave up, deciding instead to write the journal in my mind. Now I live far away from my parents and my contact with them is limited. To keep my memory of them fresh I sometimes go back to my childhood
trying to remember the child I was and the parents they were.
My ‘mind journal’ is not as efficient as I’d have hoped- I should have stuck to the exercise book. I don't remember as much about my upbringing as I want.
“You lie!” I find myself saying to my siblings when they relate how this and that happened when we were children.
For example it’s difficult for me to remember most of the colourful clothes my parents bought me, unless if I was photographed in them.
Most of the finer details of my upbringing are now hazy. I can't remember the minutiae of everyday life back then.Making our own fun
However there are events that are still vivid in my memory. I remember the toys we made ourselves. Because my parents did not buy us many toys we improvised. From dried maize stalks we came up with model planes. The toy planes’ propellers, made from dried leaves, revolved when we ran with the toys held firmly in our hands- much to our excitement.
Some of my mother's coat hangers ended up as part of toy cars
made of scrap wires. From thick mud we moulded toy animals which we impatiently left in the sun to dry. I miss those days of youthful creativity.
How can I forget my mother humming on an early Saturday morning preparing a weekly breakfast treat or the animated conversation between my parents as they shared their daily work experiences? My occasional discussions with my dad about his school days gave me a rare glimpse into the life of a man who was an enigma to me.
I still value the affirmations my parents gave me in the early years. The words: “You can be whatever you want to be,” although clichéd, helped boost my confidence. The smiles on my parents' faces when I did well at school and the congratulations encouraged me to work harder.
I think it’s important for parents to look back at their childhood and review what worked then and what didn't. By looking back at my childhood I've concluded that, although it’s important to provide for our children materially we have to be there emotionally. What our kids will remember about us is not the expensive outfits we provide them or the latest toys we spoil them with, but the quantity and quality time
we spent passing on our wisdom and experiences to them as we prepared them for the harsh realities of adulthood.What do you remember about your childhood – good and bad?