I grew up on a street, a suburban street, in a house with a garden. When it snowed all the kids on our street would get their sledges out and sledge down the hill we lived on. It wasn’t a steep hill but just steep enough to pick up some speed and steep enough for fairly young children. However if we wanted a more exciting ride we had to make our way to the park. At the park was a huge hill and it was full of children, parents and sledges from very early on a Sunday morning should it have snowed overnight on Saturday. I knew nothing about country life or open spaces growing up. We made do with a back garden, trips to the park and an annual holiday to the beach. We were happy, we used our imagination when we played, but I did find myself longing for another environment whenever I read any of the Famous Five books. It was an environment I knew nothing about and had never really experienced. I longed in my childish heart to live in the places I would read about. I had no idea that nearly every other child in history had experienced the same longing when they read even it was for something different to me. I think I would have appreciated growing up in the country but I’ll never know.
Which is why, when I stand behind my children and see what they see, I feel as if all that longing as a child, in my bedroom alone with my books, was for a reason.
They say you shouldn’t live your life through you kids and I agree with that to an extent. You’ll not find me going to pubs or clubs with them when they are teenagers for instance but if they wanted to join Robert and I for supper at a great restaurant or an opening night at the Royal Court they are more than welcome.
But this weekend I unashamedly found myself trying to imagine what it was like to be them growing up in the environment that they find themselves in. Because this was the environment I had dreamt of.
I have no idea exactly how Robert and I got here. Looking back we must have both been on a very similar path when we joined forces and those deep desires have led us to live out here in West Sussex. But one of the side effects of this hidden drive and desire is that we get to see our children experiencing freedom in the outdoors. And it brings such deep joy to me that it is worth having to wait until I’m 36 years old to see it.
Of course our kids will have dreams of their own, we understand that as parents. We certainly don’t want them to have our dreams that would be awful. But we do want them to know desire and envision a big life and understand that dreams are not a gift, given to you, but a journey that a person has to take, with all the twists and turns in the road that your dream presents you with.
My daughter may not grow up wanting to see the open sky more than anything else in the whole wide world, that was my dream, but she may have something she wants to do and contribute to so much that she dedicates her life to it.
I think what I’m trying to say is that I look at our kids and I think they are very lucky and very fortunate and occasionally it worries me because Robert and I know that there is absolutely nothing better than having a dream and finding ways to make that dream a reality. How does one instill a work ethic when one has so much?
I remember seeing a doll in a shop when I was not even five years old. It was a huge doll and stood nearly as tall as me. I begged my mum for that doll and she said that I could have it but it would take her a while to pay for it. Each and every week we went in to that little toy shop and paid a little bit more for it until one day I got to take it home. I loved that doll, I appreciated it and when I lost one of her shoes in the dentist’s waiting room I didn’t even cry I was so upset. I just remained rather stunned for days.
Waiting for that doll was an amazing lesson in delaying gratification.
The other day when I was in the supermarket with my twins they let rip with screams that could be heard all over the store. I grabbed two toy phones off the shelf and gave them one each. I paid for them with my shopping and now those phones sit in the toy box. Hmmmmmm, you can see what I’m saying.
My husband and I have a job to do raising them, as every other parent before us has had. No different really just a different set of problems and we’ll get there if we pay attention and relish the task. Which we do.
These are just thoughts today. Thoughts that I find good to bash out on to the keyboard. That’s OK I think, it’s always OK to examine dreams and desires when you have children because one day you may be called upon to guide them through theirs and I want to be as ready as I can be.
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