As parents we want our children to have lasting memories of their childhood that will stay with them for their lifetime. American writer Maya Angelou once said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” We want our children to remember us, not only the activities we did together but how being together made them feel: loved and cherished; confident and courageous; protected and safe.
A memory is our interpretation of an experience. “Experiences” and the “memory of experiences” differ greatly. Have you ever played the game where the first person whispers a phrase to the next and it is passed down the line, only to end up totally distorted by the time it reaches the last person? Or received a bit of gossip that started as a little nugget of information and developed a life of its own? Memories are a bit like that. Two people can have exactly the same experience, be in the same place, but have totally different memories of what happened.
Sometimes at family gatherings I have begun a story from my childhood, only to be interrupted by my brother who did not see it the same way. We were all there but we had our own remembrance of the experience. This is because experiences and the memory of the experience are seldom the same. We each see things differently, based on a number of variables.
Passage of Time
The passage of time increases the likelihood that our childhood memories change or fade and become less vivid, the story morphing and sometimes finding a life of its own along the way. However, telling the story many times over can help “make it stick”, even if it changes with time.
The most important facet of memory is the intensity of the emotions that were felt at the time of the experience. Events with extreme emotion are more likely to create the strongest memories – the fear and excitement of a parachute jump, sorrow at the death of a pet, joy the day of your examination results, the fear and joy at the birth of a first child, or pride resulting from a great accomplishment.
Even the simple emotions like the smile on your face when you see your child, outstretched arms and big hugs, listening intently, or expressing your pride in their actions and accomplishments can also create warm memories. So often it is the little things that count.
Yateley Manor Memories
We see the importance of providing as many incredible experiences as possible for children at Yateley Manor, because the experiences and memories will last well into their adult lives.
Take this week for example: our U11 and U13 basketball teams took part in the national finals in Kent last weekend; children in Year 3 learnt about the culture of China and took part in a dragon dance; our older children heard from the inventor of an underwater drone; the school was awash with book characters on World Book Day; and of course, a highlight for many in the school was the visit by a Chinook aircraft, turning elegantly over our school field before throbbing off into the distance.
Lockdown has had an impact on our lives in many ways. Personally I have lost much of my drive to do something completely different just for the fun of it. Instead I take the safe route, because that is all we have been able to do – a walk through the woods or repairing more fence panels in the back garden! Now is the time to make memories through experiences that, for some time now, have been unattainable.
When children look back on their lives, I think they rarely remember the expensive gifts or fancy dinners out. They remember their parents’ intentions in giving them the gifts, the sacrifices their parents made in order to be there for them, and the special times that were not that important to anyone but those present. Memories are hugely important as a way to build bonds, encourage a lifelong connection, and help keep happiness within the family, long after your children move out. Set aside time to bond with your child and make those memories. They will go on to live long after the moment.