Alas, I fear that this might be what I sound like sometimes! Does my enthusiasm for shared experiences come across as naggy? Yes, I’m sure it must.
Let’s consider the Jacaranda trees as an example. They are, as you can see, absolutely spectacular! We are at the height of Jacaranda season here in Pietermaritzburg. Many streets are lined with these graceful trees painting the canopy purple. In other spots you’ll encounter an enormous tree on its own mocking all the other colors around.
This is not my first time experiencing this wonderful season, it’s actually my fourth. I enjoyed three years of Jacarandas blossoming in Monduli, Tanzania, when I taught there in the 90s. And it was in that setting that my heart sweetened on my now husband. With no car and plenty of time, I remember long walks gazing up with blossoms underfoot. We would appreciate the foresight of the Germans who planted those trees along the roads, never experiencing what a gift they would be to future generations.
As you can see my reaction to the Jacarandas here in South Africa might be a wee bit steeped in my own reminiscing! But really, how can anyone miss pointing out these trees every time they spot one?! You know who… my children! So what’s a mom to do? Step up the exclamations of delight, right? Which leads to the nag factor.
At least we have all had a sense of humor about it. When I expressed that there was not sufficient appreciation for this fleeting botanical moment they got the message. Now there are plenty of syrupy exclamations to appease me, “OH MY, look at THAT tree…. Ooooo….aaaahhhh!” Even if it’s not heartfelt at least they’re noticing, right?
This all sounds funny of course but it’s an example of something I’ve been mulling over recently – that I cannot control what my children will take away from this experience. I know, I know… that should be obvious to me. And it is in a way. But plenty of people have commented, “Your children will remember this forever!” as if there were a universal memory we would share. I’m not sure that’s how it works. The Rhino Incident, the stolen car – ok, maybe permanent and certainly shared. But the amazing stars, the general politeness of everyone, the sweetness of the small bananas, the resilience of the people who have experienced so many difficulties, the sharp “caw-caw” of the Ibis birds before dawn…. the Jacarandas…sadly, maybe not!
So I am practicing owning my memories and allowing others to have theirs. I do feel confident that there will be lasting memories. Who knows, some of them may even be grounded in the values we were hoping might be imparted during this year. And quite wonderfully, there will be a whole collection of memories my children will have that I didn’t experience at all or carry forward with me. They will likely remember the baboon poop* on the back windshield long after I have forgotten that one. And I can only guess at the collection of images, sounds, stories, and ideas that fill their minds from their school days. I just hope that once this year is far behind us they will still be willing to share them with me. I’ll be happy to remind them about the Jacarandas!
What are the things you remember from childhood, trips, or big experiences? Do you think it’s what your parents would have wanted or thought you’d remember?
* In honor of my children’s experience, I’d better share the baboon poop with you, right?
And may we have one last enthusiastic “ooo- and – aahh” from the blogging audience, please!?!?