Parents, take note: This is something you might consider doing for your children.
People in general, take note: If your parents are alive, and you’re able to ask them for things like this, it might be a good thing to ask for.
Today’s my birthday, and my parents sent me the best present I’ve ever gotten. (I’m saying this here in case, as is likely, I’m not able to on the telephone call because of my current setup.)
They sent two binders. One for each of them. Inside is the beginning of the story of each of their lives, as well as descriptions of where they lived and what it was like growing up, including how it differed from where and when I grew up, as well as historical events that happened at the time. They put in childhood photos, and also photos and maps of the places, people, and things they interacted with. They wrote them separately from each other, then showed each other when they were done. And they said they’d send more pages later for me to put into the binders.
Most people don’t know a lot about what their parents were like as children, and how it differed from their own lives. For me it’s a bit more extreme than usual, because my parents were older than usual when they had me. (People often thought, when I was growing up, that my father was my grandfather — he’s old enough to be, and he had a grey beard. They thought my brother was my father, too, since he’s fourteen years older than me and (like the rest of the family) a good deal taller.)
One of the first events my father describes is the bombing of Pearl Harbor, which occurred when he was a baby. My mom talks about how when she was a kid, her left-handedness was considered pathological, and considered not only related to which hand was dominant, but also to her habit of incessant question-asking and any other unusual traits she had. (She said when her father injured his right hand, she very seriously warned him that he would begin to ask questions about everything.)
I’m not going to go into public detail about everything they said unless they give permission, because I’m sure some of it is personal. But I have to say both of them had very interesting, and sometimes hilarious, lives. And it was interesting to see how they thought of things when they were three years old, too.
Anyway, I think this is one of the best things you can give your children when you’re a parent. It gives a sense of perspective that I never had because I never knew much about their childhoods. And I think everyone ought to be able to find out what it was like when their parents were kids. I’m looking forward to their later installments. (And I’d suggest to my parents, if you haven’t already, you might want to send these to my brothers too, they’d probably be interested as well.)