Saturday, February 13, 2010


One of the things I felt the lack of when I was pregnant was a sense of continuity for my child. My husband and I live ages from our families, neither of us have a family home or church or school that we can hope our child will go to; there is no family christening gown or aged rocking horse... I thought everything was going to have to be new.

About a year ago however, I loaded onto the record player in his room a Dr. Seuss album from the 1960s which I have been toting around with me since... well, since the 1960s frankly. It was The Sleep Book (b-side: If I ran the Zoo). He loves it, but he likes 'Green Eggs and Ham' even more which we read along with the record.

Shortly afterwards I went to visit my parents and discovered a box of wonders in their cellar. Now he drifts off to sleep under a Winnie The Pooh blanket made for me when I was his age by some unidentified aunt, perhaps, or family friend; he plays with my ancient building blocks and eats his pasta from my old Bunnykins bowl (which the frog hates; too twee and bourgeois and covered in bunnies) and he plays with some of my old cars, including a tiny London bus I've had for at least 35 years which he refers to as 'your special bus, Mummy'.

It's cool, I'm remembering more and more things from my early years. We're singing songs from 'Little Toot' while he's in the bath, a title which I have to say always makes me chuckle and go 'la la la' a lot - because what girl can remember all the words to a song about a tugboat 40 years after the fact?

I'm enjoying handing these pieces of my childhood on to my own child and am very conscious that this sharp and often wearisome thing we call the present is actually his past and the most important thing we can give him.

There are a few more things in the mystery box that he will inherit as the years go by but the most important thing is, of course, a sense of family; a sense of continuity. Something that I hope ultimately will hold me in good stead when I am old and frail and in need of a real special bus; or at least, a son with enough charity to keep an eye out for his old Ma and perhaps wrap her knees with a Pooh blanket on a cold afternoon.


Martin and Luschka said...

That's beautiful. I really cherish a few of my old things I've passed on to my daughter too. It's the circle of life, really, and it's beautiful.

DJ Kirkby said...

Ah how lovely :) I'm keeping memory boxes for the boys, it's so lovely to have memory prompts from your childhood.

darth sardonic said...

we recently got all the "droopy" and "looney tunes" dvd's we could from netflix and were more than pleased to discover that our kids love them. now all i have to do to make my oldest laugh is say in a shaky borderline drunken screech, "allow me to introdushe myshelf, my name iz mud!" so cool when they dig the shit you dug.

Anonymous said...

Ahhhh...such a lovely post. I'm a right old hoarder (and so are my parents) so my kids are going to be awash with clutter! Knowing my luck, they'll be into feng shui and will chuck the lot!

Brit in Bosnia / Fraught Mummy said...

We're really lucky in my family. It is an odd structure with many steps and halves but basically it has meant that there has always been someone to hand down to and from. The coats have been through at least 7 people and a cardigan knitted for me has had just gone through its 10th little baby.

Best of all, all our old lego is coming back to us.

Lovely post.

Sparx said...

Martin & Luschka - exactly so, isn't it!

DJ - Memory boxes! What a great idea...

Darth - Hahaha!!! Good one - we've got in a few from our own childhoods including some really bizarre French ones!

Muummmeeeeeee.... NO kids are into feng shui and minimalism, they are all pack rats by nature, don't worry!

Brit in Bosnia - Ahhh, that's so great! A lot of my stuff went to my cousins and has gone through their kids too, it is great. I've got all our old lego still too - he's not big enough yet but pretty soon...

Heather said...

that is beautiful, a really lovely post. those things handed down become so important don't they? they hold a sense of belonging, somehow.

Sphinx said...

What a lovely post! When I was growing up, my father was serving in the Royal Air Force and we moved every two and a half years or so. I didn't get to know my mother's side of the family until I was in my mid-teens (they lived in Africa, and we lived in Europe)! And my only sibling was my brother, so no hand-me downs. I have made crochet blankets for each of my grandchildren. And for my grandson, because he lives close by and I see him all the time, I am making old style scrap books for him about important events in his life. I gave him the first one for Christmas - pictures of all the people in his family - and he loves it. He has just started creche three mornings a week, so that's the next one I'm working on.
I've also got my son's lego stashed away for later, and a few of my favourite books for much later. And of course, we sing all the old nursery rhymes.

Hoto said...

Little Toot was just a tug
Just a happy harbour tug
And he came from a line of tugboats fine and brave
But it seems that Little Toot
Simply didn't give a hoot
Though he tried to be good he never could behave.

Chugga chugga chug he'd call my lad
I'm a big toot just like my dad
Pull big boats with the old heave ho
And away we go!

He made the ocean liners wait
While he made a figure eight
With the greatest of ease
He'd cut through the seas
And slide ...

But he went too far one day
When he slid in Big Toot's way
And it wasn't a joke
For it nearly broke Big Toot's pride

Won't you ever grow up Little Toot
Won't you ever grow up Little Toot
When there's work to be done
All you think of is fun
Won't you ever grow up Little Toot

Little Toot had quite a scare
He decided then and there
To try to be good as good as he could be
So when his dad came puffin' slow
With a mighty ship in tow
Little Toot went to help to take him out to sea

Chugga chugga chug he pulled my lad
I'm a big toot just like my dad
Pull big boats with the old heave ho
And away we go!

Won't you ever grow up Little Toot
Won't you ever grow up Little Toot
When you get into trouble
You get into it double
Won't you ever grow up Little Toot

What a shame
What a shame
You've disgraced your father's name
Won't you ever grow up Little Toot

He was threshing all around
When a storm came crashing down
In the billowing sea he tossed and tossed and tossed
And his heart was filled with fear
For he knew the rocks were near
With the wind in pursuit Little Toot knew all was lost

Then he saw a rockets flare
Come a-bursting in the air
And he suddenly knew that he must do or die
For a ship was in distress
And as he pumped an S.O.S.
He raced to the rescue of the ship nearby

Well it seems you've grown up Little Toot
You're a brave Little Toot
Can't you hear that cheering crowd
You have made your daddy proud
You are now a Big Toot, Little Toot!

lady macleod said...

Oh that's grand and I agree very important. Where else does the present come from if not the past. Our futures are but updated remakes, we hope with improvements and more tolerance but remakes of that unity of humankind that begins with Mum, Dad, and Spud and or Spudette.
Well done Mum!

Lisa @ Boondock Ramblings said...

That is special..lately I've been digging things out at my parents (actually they've been telling me to get rid of them) and having been reliving my childhood while Jonathan looks at the toys as if they are new. . . it is a sense of continuity...

Elisa, Croatia said...

Aww, lovely wonderful to have things from your childhood passed on to your child. You just made me think of my "toys".I have a collection of smurfs that I hope my daughter will enjoy as much as I did.

A Mexican mommy living in Croatia

Sparx said...

Heather - I agree and I often wonder why. Perhaps it's a sense that we as humans are so transient that having things handed down across the generations gives us a sense of place - of permanence?

Sphinx - more lego! And I love that you're making blankets. I have a few things made for me by family when I was small that I'm passing down - these things become the family heirlooms over time; I hope to start some of my own one day.

Hoto - no way!!! OK, so I tried singing it and realised that not only do I run out of words after a couple of lines... er... I also run out of tune. How rubbish am I?! You must have googled that, I can't imagine you sitting down in front of the record transcribing it all (or remembering!!). Do you still have that record?

Lady M - you've said it in a nutshell - we very much are our ancestry and our own past, recreated and polished and hopefully improved across our lifetimes... or in my case, gently degrading...!

Lisa - are you finding treasure? I've found treasure. Completely worthless and valueless to my child even but treasure none the less...!

Elisa - that's exactly the sort of thing I mean - I bet she'll love them when she's the right age... you might have to dig out some smurf videos though...

Anonymous said...

That's lovely. I love seeing my children playing with toys I used to have, and it ocurs to me reading you post that I should be saving some of my children's 'new' toys, to pass onto their own kids. Now there's a thought...

Sparx said...

More than Just a Mother - Aha - I know! But which ones??? It's a tough call. I'm chucking out anything plastic for starters...

Iota said...

I LOVED my Bunnykins bowl, but alas when I had babies, it had long been demoted to my parents' dog's bowl... How could they?

I know what you mean about passing on things from your own childhood. When I sing "The Teddy Bears' Picnic" to my kids, I have to go la la la at one point. I asked my mum what the words were. She started singing it from the beginning, and when she got to the bit I go la la la to, she sang la la la! So that's where I got it from! (But we've since bought a book with the full lyrics in.)

shadechaser said...

Beautiful Steph. Last sentence tweaked my heart.