Saturday, 28 January 2012

What makes a childhood special?

50% of the reasoning behind our Great Escape Plan is the desire to give the boys a better childhood. So I was intrigued to stumble across this thread on Mumsnet. It got me thinking about what I want to give my boys as a childhood...what really does make a childhood special?

Now, it's funny, because looking back, I always found my mum a bit distant. During my childhood I often felt she was off somewhere else in her head. I'm guessing that losing 3 babies shortly before or after their birth would do that to you. It wasn't until I was in my teens that my mum became my best friend. Mind you, I was terror between the ages of 2 and 5 apparently and utterly horrid to my mum (so she tells me). But I always felt loved.

My dad on the other hand was my hero. He could do no wrong. He was fun, full of plans, always ready to go on an adventure. I really did hero-worship him. Oh and I was a daddies girl. (see above - poor mum)

So what things did my parents do to give me such a lovely childhood?

I think the biggest gift was freedom. They trusted me to roam within an agreed area during the hours of daylight, to stay safe and be sensible. I never came to any harm. I rode my bike, played hide & seek and helped organise giant games of rounders with other children from the neighbourhood. I remember it as very idyllic. Verging on the boring it was so nondescript, but idyllic all the same (rose tinted glasses anyone?).

The 2nd greatest gift my parents gave to me was a love of books. As soon as I could read independently my mum introduced me to Enid Blyton and The Famous Five. I rattled through them, then The Secret Seven, then Alfred Hitchcock's Three Investigators. I forever had my nose in a book. But then in my early teens I discovered Sweet Valley High and my dad intervened. These books were fine, for now and again, but there was a whole library bursting at the seems with amazing authors - why was I wasting my time with teen trash? I was to ditch The Sweet Valley High Twins and their quest for romance and find something more worthy to read. That advice opened up the world of The Classics to me and I fell in love with Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights,  and many other painfully romantic books. A rose by any other name...

Holidays were few and far between. I can only really remember two. One was a camping trip in tents and the other was in a camper van. We just didn't have the money for 'proper' holidays. Not that we cared. Nobody really did 'foreign holidays'.

Summers instead were spent fruit picking, jam making, dashing to the beach during the one week of warmth Scottish summers afforded us and just pottering around really. We ate Angel Delight, Mum was forever chasing out from under her feet. We baked cakes, I learnt to peel potatoes, we played with squeezy washing up liquid bottles and chalk.

My childhood really was unremarkable. But I felt loved, secure, safe. My parents rarely fell out (they're about to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary). We never had family dramas or any kind of crisis I can remember.

That's probably why I remember it so fondly now. It was just bog-standard, run of the mill, normal. It almost bored me to tears, but I knew no different and had a world of literature to escape to. Not that I needed to escape as such. Just wished I could go to school at Mallory Towers. But it was a lovely simple childhood, protected from sadness or trauma, with two normal, healthy parents.

Thanks mum and dad. I hope I can give my boys some of the same.

Just bairns themselves on their wedding day, but wonderful parents all the same (but mum, seriously, how much hairspray?)


  1. We returned back to our native N E and I am so glad we did as it means my boys have some of the freedom I did as a child. I read through that thread and felt really sad at all the people who are denying their children the freedom to road that they had

  2. It's so sad isn't it? A great childhood is made up of the simplest of ingredients, mostly freedom and love.


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