What I remember, of course, is the monster munch crisps…
… from the tuck shop at the one and only summer scheme we went to, in the Arts Centre. It isn’t there any more, but if we pass that road I’ll say something: about how it used to be an Arts Centre, about how I went to a summer scheme there, about the monster munch crisps.
It was an ordinary thing, the same old summer scheme in the same old house, that was an Arts Centre. But what it becomes is this treasured memory. This thing we always did. Remember the tuck shop? Oh yeah! Monster munch crisps.
We didn’t show much appreciation, I imagine. We just went. Years later we think, I loved that.
What I remember, of course, is how frizzy my hair would go in the sea air. How it would double in size, impossible to detangle. It was always the same. In Portballintrae, at the Giant’s Causeway, on the Strand, on the cliff walk past the convent, in the sand dunes, on the rocks, in the nooks and crannies. The sea air and mizzle and big hair. Walking, exploring, a landscape full of settings for Famous Five adventures.
What I remember, of course, is the smell of cut grass. Practising handstands and cartwheels. Hay fever. Practising anyway.
I remember the rope-swing. The tree climbing. The wasteland.
I remember the summer there were ladybirds, everywhere.
I remember the sound of the ice-cream van and the treat of being given money for a screwball.
I remember playing with our neighbours, and our cousins.
Kim John Payne says that childhood is an unfolding experience, not an enrichment opportunity.
I bear this in mind as I think about the summer, as I block off a week or 2 on the calendar, pay for a summer scheme, book a few activities. The rest is blank space, margin. The rest has room to unfold.
There isn’t a calendar space for cut grass or frizzy hair or monster munch crisps. There’s just space. I wonder what smells and snacks and places they’ll remember? What they’ll love, in hindsight? What will unfold now, that makes them nostalgic later?
I’m tempted to fill in July & August in coloured pen, I’m tempted by that word ‘enrichment’, I’m tempted by the opportunities that pop up on Facebook on a daily basis. And so I’m grounding myself, in June, by rereading Simplicity Parenting, by listening to the voice of Kim John Payne – that ‘too much, too fast, too soon’ creates stress for our children.
We talk like where we live is a rubbish place in the summer, unless we get the weather. But that’s not how I remember it. We live in a land of settings for Famous Five adventures, where ordinary things can unfold in the mizzle and the wasteland and the queue for the tuck shop. They don’t advertise these things in glossy brochures, but they are what we remember, of course.