Thursday, 9 October 2008

Memories are made of this...

I made the decision way before I had our kids, in fact in those early days it was actually 'if' not when we had kids, but that is a tale for another day. Our family life, will no be doubt rehashed, argued over, judged and dissected over the years, within the breadth of the kids' own families if and when they have them. I felt, and still do that I had a real responsibility to be the memory maker for them. I know of course that great memories cannot be forced or foisted upon people and that they are created by the by, in happenstance and just by our every day life which brings a myriad of 'memories' to be opened later.  My belief is that cherished memories are the lasting gifts we give to those we love almost unwittingly; to our children, our families and our friends. They are opened time and time again over the years and these keepsakes are little gifts to treasure. A small example was last week ... and I thank Suburbia for her post Small Sprog battles the credit crunch ... as it reminded me of one such memory, that I reopened and cherished again. A big warm feeling!

I was out walking with our dog last week and as the trees have already started to undress and the autumnal leaves were floating gently off the trees, I spied on the ground a cache of fallen horse chestnuts, most of them opened and empty
or crushed. But amongst them I found two that were still whole, uncracked and unopened. I put them in my jacket pocket, which excited Pippa as she thought I was rummaging for her dog biscuits! When I got home, I placed them on tissue on the mantelpiece. When my son and daughter arrived home much later from school and they had changed and snacked, I told the kids them I had a gift for them and it was on the mantelpiece. They looked very excited but when they looked I think they were trying to hide their disappointment from me, then came puzzlement, and then the realisation .... They both smiled and said, 'Aw Mum!! Conkers!?' Memory opened. 'Aw! you are such a softie!' They both gently cracked them open to find the 'gift' inside, and this is the where IF you are lucky enough to find a fallen horse chestnut that is unopened, you should wait and wait to open it, guessing what size, shape or quantity is inside, the insuing anticipation is weirdly unbearable, after all its only a bloody conker! My son found he had a substantial glossy warm brown nugget; my daughter was chuffed to find she had twins, two smaller ones, a matching pair! They both smiled, I think enriched by the memory and we all hugged. I know they think I'm soft, but it's these little things that I believe will stay with them and warm them in the years to come. Perhaps when least expected and I am long gone.

When the kids were younger and in their buggy/strollers, they both loved going by the 'conker park' screeching their joy and collecting the conkers, which they displayed on the their bedroom window ledges ... they would even take them to school  for a time to play conkers with their friends. That was until about 6 years or so ago, when the PC Police, made a fuss, the press got hold and schools banned them from the playground as they are now considered 'dangerous'. How bizarre in these days of our litigious society, the schools are frightened they will be sued!
For those of you that are puzzled by the term 'conkers' and some may be completely in the dark here, I will try and explain, but remember I'm a girlie so my description I'm sure will be lacking the testosterone charged version. One chooses a good sized and well shaped, (assorted shapes are preferred for certain tactics I recall) and a hole is made through the middle, or even off centre sometimes. I would use a metal cake skewer, but I'm sure there is varied means to drill through the middle of the conker. Then a piece of string, some wool, pink if a girl and the best of a shoe lace, the tapered end is good for threading a shoe lace strong and sturdy and male. Then we would wind the lace around the fisted fingers and flip the conker with some force against the opponents conker.  If you missed you lost your turn if you hit it firmly, you kept going until you missed or the opponents' conker was decimated.
Simple pleasures of the playground...

...remember hopscotch, jacks, french skipping?
 
A contender for post of the day at Authorblog, thanks again for the mention David!

17 comments:

  1. Great post! Loved it, and the memories as gifts is a lovely theme. I liked your phrase about the trees undressing.

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  2. That was so lovely. You are right, we are memory makers and sometimes I forget my responsibility there. Thanks for reminding me. You must be a lovely mum!

    PS. I thought BS5 would provide the testosterone version!!

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  3. A lovely post Sarita. Your Ma should be sooooooooo proud of you.XX

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  4. That was something we never did on this side of the pond, but I wish we had. Sounds like great fun!

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  5. And what did you do to make your conkers the hardest? Soak them in vinegar, painted them with varnish, bake them? LOL

    I remember hopscotch, jacks and french skipping. Did you play two balls against the wall?

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  6. I took my little one on a conker hunt a few years ago. You've reminded me to do the same with two (now) of them. Many thanks FFF!
    (Still trying to finish the blasted accounts. Hopefully am days away from the finishing line or I will be ex-communicated by our accountant!)

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  7. I collected a pocketful of conkers the day before yesterday. I can't resist - like Husband and frogspawn. They have such a wonderfully rich glossy shine. Conkers that is not frog spawn.

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  8. Such a lovely idea that we mums (and dads, of course) are the memory makers for our children.

    I remember living in Germany several decades ago and finding loads of conkers all over the pavement, because German kids do not play conkers. I tried once to explain to some German schoolboys how you play it and they just looked at me as if I were... (rhymes with conkers and begins with a b.)

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  9. Oh the memories you have brought to the forefront of my mind! Great post!! Ahh.....yes, we mothers are the Memory Makers!

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  10. Lovely post - it brought back many memories to me too. I still can't resist conkers, and have been known to send them to Son in an envelope (he's 29!). Thanks for the memory. M xx
    PS Up to date at last!

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  11. I am absolutely with you on the memory making. These are the things we remember and cherish. I sometimes get to the end of a day and think "that's one for the memory banks".

    One of the reasons for my blog was to record events I may forget and I'm hoping to make some of my blog posts into a book (blurb.com) for daughter when she is older, as I'm sure she won't remember the things I am cherishing right now.

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  12. I can remember the soaking in vinegar, baking slowly in the oven, all kinds of things to make the conker stronger.
    Today's schools don't always let children play conkers, because of "health & safety" I have never known anyone in the past get badly hurt by a conker game. However it seems the game is not safe by today's standards!

    Many thanks for the lovely memory and congratulations on PFTD!

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  13. Oh the memories it brought back for me as well as your lot! Lovely memory post...congrats on the POTD mention!
    Sandi

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  14. First visit and so happy that I did. You certainly deserved David's award. It is funny how things we played with as children are so feared now. I never heard of anyone hanging from the string on their jacket. Getting maimed on one of those school yard merry-go-rounds. It seems that we have made the world as scary place and our kids have retreated into their rooms to play video games. I am trying to educated the kids around our pond about nature and all the wonderful things to see...but they are not really interested. It is so sad..

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  15. What a lovely story - we didn't have 'conkers' here but I do remember hopscotch and jacks. And instead of French skipping we had Chinese skipping.

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  16. Creating these kind of memories, the true treasures in one's life!
    Thank you for sharing this beautiful story with us. I did not know about conkers until a few short months ago, when a British friend told me about it. Many of my neighborhood streets are lined by horse chestnut trees, and every morning I step around freshly fallen conkers.

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