Back in May, I met a man who inspired to create my own family memories. A man who brought tears to my eyes while listening to his own family memories. They were bittersweet tears for me. Tears because I wished I had had some of those kind of memories that he had experienced when I was a child and tears of happiness because I was creating similar experiences with my own family.
I’ve been feeling a little down lately due to all the traveling I’ve done in July and being away from my family so when I got an email from Mr. Kendrick, I felt uplifted. I asked him if I could share this with you because it’s something I think we all need to do……… Live a Little
Banana Splits for Breakfast
by Carleton Kendrick Ed.M., LCSW
Family Therapist and Author, Take Out Your Nosering, Honey, We’re Going to Grandma’s
Twenty-three years ago, at 1:30 A.M., I woke my 10 and 8 year-old kids to see a lunar eclipse.
“That’s great,” Alisa, the elder, whined. “Tell me about it in the morning.”
“OK, Dad, I’m coming,” Jason groaned, pulling the sheets over his head.
Despite their lack of enthusiasm, I knew they’d want to see it.
Led trancelike to our backyard, they managed to recover their senses just in time to witness the moon’s gradual disappearance.
They were mesmerized.
On another occasion, a sudden, torrential downpour was driving swimmers and sunbathers from the beach. I wanted my children to feel the rain on their faces as they floated on the water.
So we ran against the fleeing crowd, into the sea.
We floated, drank the rain, and laughed.
My children still fondly recall these and all their other spontaneous family adventures.
Waltzing the Kitchen
I first learned the joy of acting spontaneously from my Uncle Peter.
When I was eight, he made one of his many unannounced visits to our home. On this particular Saturday afternoon, my mother and I were making spaghetti sauce and homemade pasta-she was Italian – in the kitchen.
He greeted her and me warmly, as always, remarked that popular, Italian crooner Perry Como was singing on our radio, and held out his arms, “Let’s dance Thelma.” She feigned embarrassment, giggling “Peter, I still have my apron on.”
He replied softly, entreatingly, “But Thelma, it’s Perry Como.” She smiled broadly and walked into his arms and the grace of their dance spoke tenderly of love and enchantment.
I felt happy and their magic filled our kitchen. At eight, I couldn’t articulate what I was witnessing, but my heart told me this was something important, something special, something to remember.
A sense of wonder
Kids come hard-wired with a natural sense of wonder.
They ask us continuously to join them in their endeavors. “Come have tea with me and my imaginary friends.” “Let’s make banana splits for breakfast!” “We need to catch some fireflies to light up our tent.”
They fascinate us with their sudden whims.
As a therapist, I’ve seen so many children become increasingly less and less free-spirited, as parents hurry them through their childhood. Even toddlers and preschoolers are expected to participate in highly structured, success portfolio oriented activities and lives.
Academic achievement-oriented daycare.
Educational play groups.
There’s hardly time for a free moment…or a childhood.
We have become less tolerant of our growing children’s spontaneous, “childlike” expressions of curiosity, humor, and celebration, and label these as frivolous, inappropriate, and immature.
In our efforts to raise brilliant, multitalented “top college” students, we lose touch with our kids’ penchant for fun.
They lose touch with their flair for the spontaneous, the impromptu.
Your toll has been paid
It’s easy to be spontaneous.
Take your daughter for a surprise picnic lunch and bring along her favorite junk foods.
Pick your son up at school and take him to an early afternoon matinee of a movie he’s been dying to see.
The next time you’re at a toll booth, tell your kid to pay for the two cars behind you.
How about banana splits for breakfast?
Surprise your kids.
Make some memories.
My Uncle Peter taught me to dance in the kitchen, to swim in the rain, to live in the moment.
He listened to his heart and invited others to celebrate what he heard.
You are never too old to dance in the moonlight.
Your children need to know that.
P.S. Taking five, for me, means days so if I seem to be in and out, please understand that I’m focusing on my family right now.