I remember I was about 9 years old when we were moving from Quebec back to Toronto. My mom had given me the task of packing my toys and books, and getting rid of anything that I didn't want any more. It was funny because at the age of 9 I had already stopped playing with toys. I was a tomboy. We had a creek in the backyard to catch frogs and a field one block away to explore in. I didn't need toys anymore. I was surrounded by nature in this small town at the base of the Laurentian Mountains. I played with the kids in the neighborhood and only had to go home when the street lights came on. It was a different world for parents. No car seats to wrestle with. No safety helmets for biking. No cell phones. Today, you couldn't pay me a million dollars to let my kids run wild like I did. I want them wearing their helmets when they bike. I want them in their car seats for as long as possible. And I want to know where they are...all of the time...so they all have cell phones. I really don't know how parents coped without cell phones.
After I had finished sorting all of my belongings, my Dad saw two neatly packed boxes. One was marked "LITTLE KID TOYS" and the other "LITTLE KID BOOKS." He asked if he should get rid of them. I told him that I was keeping them for my children. I was 9 years old and I already knew that I was having children, and that I wanted to save my toys and books for them. These toys and books had special meaning and memories for me and I wanted to share them with my children. I looked forward to it.
My Dad didn't actually believe that I meant when I said, so he gave my books and toys away. A few years later I found my books at my younger cousin's house. I was thrilled...at first. When I went to look at my books I noticed that the pages had been scribbled all over and others had been ripped out. When I had packed the books they had been in pristine condition, even though I had reread them numerous times. It felt worse to see what my cousin had done to the books, than having them given away in the first place.
Many, many years later I was in an old book store with my boyfriend (pssst...he later became my husband) and I happened to see the set of books that I had put away for my (future) children over a dozen years before. I was thrilled to see them but we were heading out to meet some friends, so we couldn't buy them that evening or we'd be stuck dragging them around all night. We planned to pick them up a few days later, but sadly they were gone. But not for long. I received the books for my birthday!
We have read the whole set of books to each of our four kids, and passed along a memory that is infinitely better because it not only belongs to my childhood, but also that it was made possible because of my absolutely wonderful husband.