When I was young, one of my very favorite toys was my Raggedy Ann doll. She had a sweet smile, straggly yarn hair, button eyes and a little red heart drawn on her chest right over the place where a candy heart was sewn inside her (or so I was told). I loved my doll very dearly, and also the book of Raggedy Ann stories that my mother would read to me.
In introduction to those stories, readers learn that Raggedy Ann belonged to a little girl named Marcella who found her one day when she was rummaging in her grandmother's attic. She brought the rag doll to her grandmother, who sewed on a missing button eye and told a few stories about her childhood. Then she gave Raggedy Ann to Marcella, asking her simply to take good care of her. From then on, Raggedy Ann held a special place in the nursery because she was so much older and wiser than any of the other brand new dolls and toys.
Much like Marcella, my own daughter recently found my old and, yes, quite ragged Raggedy Ann doll in the attic of her grandmother's house when I had abandoned my dolls and toys many years ago. She ran downstairs to show it to her grandma, and got to hear lots of stories about her mother's childhood. We also found the old book of stories, and have been reading them aloud at bedtime ever since.
And that is one of the most amazing and unexpected joys of being a parent, isn't it? Our children take us into the future, but they also bring us back to our pasts, to our own childhoods.
This week and next here at Being Savvy, we are exploring all of the rich opportunities for learning and closeness and fun that every parent has right up in the attic. And by attic we mean the metaphorical attic of our brains -- where we can dust off a few memories of our own childhoods -- as well as real attics, basements, or storage cabinets full of old photos, books, toys and other artifacts that are sure to fascinate the little ones. Faded family albums, for example, make great bedtime stories. And talking about how the world was different when you were young is your child's best introduction to the notion of history.
In the weeks ahead, we'll have many more ideas on the best ways to bring your own childhood past into your child's present. Young kids are very fond of memory lane -- enjoy taking trips there together!
One of the fondest memories of my late 1950s and early 1960s rural New England childhood was spending most days each summer roaming and exploring throughout our neighborhood and the surrounding small farms. Our little development of post WWII ... read more
In Allen Say's Caldecott Medal-winning book, Grandfather's Journey, the narrator recounts the story of his grandfather's life. When he was a young man, the grandfather decided to explore the world. We took a boat from Japan to America, and journey... read more