Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Building Memories with Your Children

"To be in your children's memories tomorrow, you have to be in their lives today."

- Author Unknown

Several years ago when my oldest two children were young, we used their October school vacation break to explore some of the most amazing scenery on the planet in southern Utah. We would load up into our minivan and drive and hike in places like Arches National Park, Bryce National Park, and other lessor-known trails of adventure off the beaten path. One of the traditions I started a few years before in 1996 while we were visiting Kyoto, Japan, was to tell an imaginary story of two young children, Maria and Donguriguri-kun (acorn boy) and their many space adventures.

Well, over the years, the story began to grow with countless episodes filled with fantastic encounters with alien creatures and plenty of villains to spice up the plot. Normally, a made-up story might have a lifespan of a day or two, but this one continued over the years, and I passed the time on most of our long hikes through national parks by telling my kids these tales. In fact, we crossed some very barren landscape hours upon hours with the kids content as can be . . . as long as I kept the story going.

On one particular vacation, we pulled into a very small town without having a plan as to where to spend the night. I threw out the idea of spending the night in the minivan at a gas station, and the kids were excited about the prospect of doing so. The kids ended up bedding down in the back seats while I spent a cramped and somewhat uncomfortable night in the driver's seat. However, it was honestly fun.

Now, the years have passed, and I'm sure my kids wouldn't want to spend a night at the same place. They're adults now, and we all wouldn't fit the same way we did years ago. Still, I relish the memory of doing something a little out of the ordinary.

Doing things outside of the box and experiencing the simplest pleasures of life based on our kids interests and desires can build memories for everyone.

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