It is important to tell our kids the stories of the old days so they learn who they are and where they come from.
I spent yesterday in Arden, back at my old home where I grew up. It’s a vast estate with just about nobody on it. But I drove deep into the woods and knocked on the door of one of the longest standing residents there, to say hello. From there she drove us another fifteen minutes into the woods high up into the hills to a pristine lake that we sat down and had lunch next to.
Another friend who came to see my home ate her sandwich beside me as we gazed out on the gorgeous fall day miles from civilization. She is my witness in case I ever get the idea that I just dreamed up this whole thing. The whole idea that I grew up out in the middle of nowhere. So are my husband and kids. This is where I am from. And since my sisters and brothers have fled, parents are gone and all other relatives are in hiding of one kind or another, I need witnesses to help me remember who I am.
My own kids won’t have to worry about who they are as much, I hope, because my husband and I and our supportive community have reflected back to them who they are ever since they were born. There are photos and stories and family lore repeated and shared over and over that help my kids figure out where they come from. Stories of my eldest methodically spooning flour into his mouth, sure it was sugar, while my back was turned once when he was three and we were cooking together. Stories of my middle boy holding us all hostage with a spraying garden hose at the age of four, delighting in his sudden power, and stories of my daughter often asking us when she was a baby, “You got a nose?” These kinds of stories, stories of before they can remember, and stories of their grandparents and extended family, and stories of being a person among others help each of them get to know who they are.
Otherwise, with no family around, and no awareness of how I was as a baby, and coming from such a physically isolated place, I am in a bit of a vacuum. A lot of the time my family feels as if it is only a bunch of trees and a lake and lots of my own personal sky. But thank goodness today my family also includes my husband, my kids, my friend with a sandwich, and one who answers her door way up in the woods.