One of my favorite things about being a parent is having a good excuse to re-live the most fun parts of my own childhood. Adults aren’t supposed to do things like go down slides, or jump in bouncy houses, or ride roller coasters, or make homemade play-doh – but if we’re doing it with our kids, it’s okay. So my kids are my excuse for breaking out the water guns, and putting marshmallows in my hot chocolate, and going to the amusement park. Or, in the case of today, my kids are my excuse for going to a farm and feeding the animals, going for a hay ride, making spin art, sticking my head through painted pictures and having my photo taken, and running through a field picking apples.
Today, my husband and I took our two kids apple picking.
At the ages of 2 and 4, had that been all we did, they would still have had a wonderful time. They loved walking through the tall grass between the rows of trees, they loved carefully examining each apple to be sure it was unblemished and evenly red, they loved twisting the apple off the branch, they loved dropping the apples into the bag with a satisfying THUNK, they loved touching and smelling and looking and listening. But because Mummy and Daddy remembered all the other fun things you can do at a farm from doing them when WE were kids, we did so much more than just pick apples!
Making spin art brought back a sudden, deep-buried memory of a bulletin board in my sister’s room bearing a piece of spin art and a signed photograph of Mr. Rogers. I hadn’t thought about either of those things in more than 30 years, but seeing my kids’ creations brought it back like it was yesterday.
Walking through the farm store, smelling the warm cinnamon-sugar smell of the cider donuts, brought back memories of dunking donuts into hot mulled cider at the local orchard as a child. Looking at the shiny, red, polished apples on display reminded me of my childhood collection of green Nerf cylinders (the circles that were punched out of a big piece of foam for the apples to nestle in, which we bought for a few pennies apiece at a farmstand when I was not much older than my children are now), toys which I (and many of my childhood friends) still remember spending many happy hours throwing at each other.
But most of all, I remember the fun of spending time with my family, all together. I remember all of us singing in the car on the way to the orchard, I remember holding my dad’s hand in one hand and a bag of donuts in the other as we waited to pay, I remember my mom hoisting me up in her arms at the end of an exhausting day running through the apple trees.
And I hope that 30 or 40 years from now, my children are remembering the same happy memories of their childhoods.