When I think of a happy summer evening, one of the memories that comes to the front of my mind is from when I was a little kid. In the memory I’m snuggled in my bed ready to go to sleep. I have my Forever Friends bed sheets on which match my Forever Friends flower curtains. I didn’t have blackout curtains when I was young (how my mum got me to sleep I have no idea!) so the evening summer sun is glowing through my window. I don’t remember anything else apart from feeling so contented and happy.
I remember spending Sundays in the playroom with my sister setting up little ‘shops’. Then our parents would come in and splurge our various creations for 2p a go. We’d store the money in our Whipsnade coin purses (those plastic tube ones with screw top lids and a chord so you could hang it round your neck!).
I remember after the excitement of Christmas morning, my sister and I would keep our presents downstairs for days and days. We’d each build a little den behind the chair or next to the tree and put all our presents in it. Then we’d spend hours in there whilst mum and dad enjoyed the Christmas TV!
I remember during the school holidays that mum would take us to Windsor for the day (before we moved back up North) and we’d pop and see dad in his office. Then we’d go to the coffee shop for a Welsh Rarebit and as we left she’d stop to buy some freshly ground coffee. My sister and I would take it in turns to hold the warm bag and breathe in the smell. Even today I love the smell of freshly ground coffee for this reason even though I cannot bear to even drink a sip of it!
I remember every Saturday evening we’d sit together after dinner and watch ‘Noel’s House Party’ and ‘The Generation Game’. (I LOVED trying to remember everything on the conveyor belt!) And then when we got old, it turned into pizza and film night. Even now we’ve moved out and mum is gone, when we are back home dad still breaks out the pizza, garlic bread and salad for tea!
These recollections come flooding back more and more now I am a mother. Whenever I tuck Little H in at night, or give her a cuddle on the sofa I remember how it was when I was a child. And I find myself wondering what she will remember of her childhood when she has grown up. The enduring feeling I remember from when I was small is that feeling of safety. Sure, as a kid, you have worries; school pressures, school bullies, getting changed for P.E. in communal changing rooms (I don’t know how on earth that is supposed to help anyone’s self-esteem!). But home was always the place I could switch off from things that were bothering. I want Little H to have that same feeling.
I hope that she’ll have fond memories of all the cuddles and all the playing together. Of the summer afternoons playing in the garden. Of our trips into town for a drink and a cheeky scone. Of feeling well fed. Of feeling warm and comfortable. Of film afternoons and rainy days flopped on the sofa devouring book after book!
But it’s such a different world she’s growing up into. Children are subjected to more testing and monitoring than when I was a kid. The internet, mobile phones and social media make it very difficult to shut the outside world away. I worry about how much I can protect her and make her feel safe and secure in a world I’ve not lived through as a young person. I just have to hope that by listening, by being there for her and creating experiences like those that made me feel so happy, that she will indeed be happy, confident and secure. And that she will snuggle into her bed on a summers evening to fall into a contented sleep!