Back in 1976 I decided that a unique gift for my daughter’s first birthday would be a journal in which I would write down the happenings, the new experiences and the milestones of each day. I petered out before I reached the goal of her third birthday. We still have these two diaries and there are many treasured stories in them. It is hard to say whether she will enjoy them as much as I have.
To the people who say “I couldn’t do that, I’m not a writer,” I would reply: “You’re not a photographer either and yet you fill the baby books with photos.”
Here is a passage I will share with you. My daughter was two and a half:
“I was changing M’s diaper at bedtime when she looked up at the ceiling and noticed a spider walking about. She was immediately worried that the spider would come down on top of her. I laughed at this and said that it would not be coming down on her. Seconds later, as M. jumped up in great fear and clutched me, (more fear than she has ever exhibited), I saw the spider descending gracefully on a silken string just inches from our heads. We moved and I did the best I could under the circumstances to convince her the spider would not hurt her. We watched the spider go all the way back up again and come down. She was starting to overcome her fear with amusement and curiosity but I thought it would save some trouble if I just killed the spider. (I have never liked spiders myself–I am a beekeeper who worries about being bitten by a spider!) So, when she wasn’t so intense on the spider, I squashed it. This caused her to wail in grief, and shout at me, with big crocodile tears in her eyes: ‘You messed him up!!!’ I had to hold and rock her beyond this new crisis. It was quite a learning experience.”
A few footnotes here: This illustrates the unexpected challenges and learning experiences of being a parent. The entire story never ceases to intrigue me. How wrong we can be sometimes, when we think we are doing right.
This was also the point of origin of one of those family expressions or insider jokes. For years we used “you messed him up,” in our familial humor.
And a happy ending for the spiders of the world: As a child I had a spider phobia. Illogically, as an adult I have had no trouble putting my bare hands into a hive of 60,000 honeybees, most of which have a stinger they will use if you upset them. I have finally overcome my huge fear of spiders, having lived several years in my basement bedroom, a spider mecca which no one wanted to rent. I still don’t like spiders…but now they get to live at least half the time, if I can transport them to the great outdoors.
I would recommend all parents jot down some of their children’s stories in a special book for them. It will have more meaning than a photo. Or you could combine a photo with a story. When you are gone who will be there to tell the stories?