Apparently this summer everyone is busy #makingmemories. But what’s the key to success? What makes a moment stay put? Forever logged.
I recently asked my eight year old what he remembers most about living in Geneva. He screwed up his eyes in a thoughtful fashion then said ‘the really great meatballs we used to have at the blue place with yellow writing’ – ah yes, that well known Swiss must see.. IKEA. So all those years of lake swims and mountain excursions and his lasting memory is one of a cut-prize questionable meat dish garnished with a Swedish flag.
Turns out memories are fickle. Like cats.
In an effort to keep our memories alive (and less fickle) I decided to bring the boys back to the area this year for our summer holiday. With two out of the three having being born here I want to make sure they maintain a connection of some sort. Now we’re back, the eldest is thankfully pointing out some non-flatpack related landmarks he remembers. The middle child pretends he knows them too while clearly having zero recollection. The youngest is totally oblivious. So we’re layering on new memories. Lake dips and Nutella filled croissants aplenty.
What my son’s memory made me realise though is that while we’re breaking our backs (and the bank) as parents to imprint new and exciting experiences on our little ones’ minds – to give them opportunities they’ll never forget, ironically, it’s the small inconsequential moments that they’ll likely remember. The mundane. Not the mighty.
Thinking back to my very first childhood memories. I was four. We were living in Baghdad. But I don’t remember anything about the scenery, the village where we lived, the people. Instead I remember the turtles in my school pond, the smell of the French bakery in the city, the wild dogs I thought were wolves. As for our family holidays, my mum loved a flash resort but I mainly remember the time dad, donning new white trousers, tripped comedy style over a railing in Italy, then the look on his face after sitting on chewing gum on top of Vesuvius. Mum always reading by the pool while I played hours of ping pong with my long suffering dad. Endless card games stretching out into the night.
Recalling trips away with my husband it’s the cosy camping (well posh camping) that brings back the fondest memories. The morning flasks of coffee and later the bottles of red with stinky cheese. And with friends, it’s Baileys and melons in France, sleeping on our luggage on a jam-packed train to Vienna and the Christmassy snow when we got there. Or the sweaty, over-ambitious hike with another where we nearly dehydrated – and that first taste of a lemon soda when we finally arrived.
It’s those little moments that stick. While the ones you think you’ll remember often just get muddled up in the craziness of life and time.
As for myself, being back brings up a whole heady mix of memories. Though funnily enough I’m like my son. I didn’t well up while swimming in the cool blue lake marvelling at the view of the Alps. But rather while wheeling a trolley around the local supermarket, picking up a pack of biscuits I used to buy for the kids. Maybe then the key to success for the Bainbridges’ memory making is food!
So the lesson I’m learning this summer is to not to worry so much about expensive days out or lavish treats. I’m partial to panicking that I’m not squeezing enough in. But it’s the picnics, the bike rides, the long lazy days – all of life’s little nuggets that will hold the most.
And the meatballs of course.