Recently my daughter has been asking a lot of questions and most of the time they begin with "Mama, do you remember when...." I find it so interesting to hear what she recalls and how far back she can remember certain events since she is only four. I was also interested in what memories specifically stuck with her. I began to reflect on my own childhood, a complicated one to say the least. What do I remember? What has stayed with me now at my prime age of 30? I have trouble sometimes recalling what I did the day before, where I put certain items, I can barley remember the names of my high school and college teachers, although a few remain intact in my memory; my high school math teacher, Ms. Tracy and English teacher, Mr. Mc. Mahon....that's about it. But I was trying to focus on my childhood and how far back I could remember and what those memories consisted of. To my surprise my strongest memories of my childhood are those of when I was most afraid, and those of when I was most carefree, and engaging in all forms of unstructured play.
I remember picking blackberries off the rooftops of my neighbors home in the small city of Baalbeck, Lebanon. They were so plump and juicy and they would stain my hands. We would play in the alleys of the rubble filled streets playing hopscotch and racket ball.
I remember walking through the woods in New Mexico with a group of kids collecting berries and scraps of wood, and leaves making up a play about kings and queens which we later presented to our parents.
I remember watching The Little Mermaid when it first came out in theater.
I remember spending endless summer days on the streets of Sunnyside, Queens, where all the children from the neighborhood would come out to play from morning until night. All sorts of fun and games would fill our time. I would ride my bike with my cousin and all his friends all over Sunnyside Queens, having adventures, exploring the city, riding where ever the wind would take us.
I remember spending summers at my grandmother's home in Lower East Side Manhattan; no backyards or quiet streets, this was the inner city in all its glory. I would always be downstairs with my cousin and the kids from the building playing Johnny Come Over, Red Light Green Light 123, Monkey in the Middle, Freeze Tag, Man Hunt, Dodge ball....its so interesting how I hadn't thought of these times in so long, but my how much fun it was to be so carefree and young! During those hot summer days my cousin and I would often make pitchers of lemonade, take a box top, put the pitcher and some plastic cups in it and go around the neighborhood selling cups of lemonade for .25 cents, we would collect all our money at the end of the day and rent movies or buy goodies from the local bodega.
I think about these memories and hope to create even better memories for my children. I think the best way to do that is to give them the same freedom my family gave me, the freedom to have adventures and explore the world. To do this I must provide them with these opportunities. I hope to be able to achieve this through our journey of homeschooling and travel inshaallah.
Coming from a single parent household, we were not under the constant watchful eyes of an adult. Often times I would leave early and come back at night from riding bike, going to parks, playing with friends, walking around the neighborhoods etc. Whether I was in NY or Baalbeck it was the same, adults did not feel the need to constantly be present. Now adays parents are afraid to let their children into their own backyards for fear of falling, getting dirty, being murdered or kidnapped, getting hit by a car. While these fears are valid kids are going to fall and get hurt and get dirty. We now have become accustomed to keeping our kids locked indoors and use electronics, TV, and computer games as entertainment. I'm not sure if we are really leaving in a world that has become more dangerous or if our fears are getting the best of us.