Memories are funny. Sometimes I sit with my kids and listen to them recall a memory of which I was very present. Their recollection of the scene is always very different from what I remember. For this reason, I have a hard time documenting my kids’ lives with camera or video. I’d like for me and my boys to remember it the way we want rather than how it’s literally conveyed in the picture or on screen. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy capturing digital moments of my kids and looking back with them, I just mean sometimes memories are sweeter if you can recall them on your own.
When I was eight or nine, I played soccer. Practice was after school at a nearby neighborhood park. In my skewed memory, school dismissed at 3:30ish and practice started maybe an hour later. Because both my parents worked, I walked several blocks to practice after school by myself. Times were different back then, I’ve heard. Media didn’t inundate us with stories of kidnappings, horrific accidents or other grotesque scenes. Or if they did, my parents had a way of making me feel I was always safe and sound. So this seemed perfectly normal to me that I would be walking the streets alone at age eight.
And, thankfully, my mom was not the “helicopter mom” that I and so many women of my generation are. (For those who don’t know: a “helicopter mom” is one who constantly hovers over their children to assure their safety while in reality most likely stifling their child’s independence and sense of security). So I had a chance to explore on my own without my mom lurking in the bushes to keep me safe.
One of my favorite memories of this after school sport isn’t the way the grass smelled on the field or the way the ball sounded when I booted it toward a goal. My favorite recollection is slowly meandering down to the park alone and the ice cream cone I would get before practice started. I would arrive to the park before any other players. With several minutes to spare, I’d pay up with my fifty cents and order a small chocolate ice cream cone rolled in Twinkle Coat. (Twinkle Coat is little pieces of nutty peanut brittle with sprinkles mixed in).
It’s possible I only had the pleasure of tasting that cone once or twice or maybe it was twice a week for the entire soccer season – I have no idea. And perhaps my mom really was lurking in the bushes assuring my safety – I really have no clue. But I will never forget how much I enjoyed and looked forward to that tasty treat. Just me, my freedom and my cone.
To this day (30 years later), every spring when that ice cream stand opens up, I head down there for a chocolate cone with twinkle coat. Maybe it’s just a little reminder to myself that no matter what this crazy grown-up world throws at me and no matter what mistakes I make, I’m still safe, independent and loved.