My sister and I were recently contacted on Facebook by a childhood friend that we have not been in contact with for over 40 years. Just the initial contact alone brought back many memories of our childhood, playing with Barbie dolls, playing dress up with plastic wigs, imitating the band The Monkeys and fighting over who would be Davie Jones. I was instantly transported back to an elementary school age girl, sitting on the floor of our friend’s bedroom playing with our Barbie dolls, or picking fruit off of the trees in their backyard for an afternoon treat.
This long lost friend asked if we could set up a dinner date where we could reconnect and we met last week for the first time in 40+ years. Four women; two sets of sisters, who had the common thread of a childhood where we were free to roam the streets in search of playmates as long as we were home by dinner time. We reminisced about an era-gone-by where children could be children and communities and families lived life together. If I was out in the community and did something that went against the values of our family, my mother knew about it before I got home. We reminisced about our childhood, and laughed so hard that I thought we were going to be thrown out of the restaurant at one particular point.
As with all communities, there are tragedies and we also remembered with sadness, a certain family where a fatal car accident took the life of the mother and the family just seemed to die emotionally, spiritually and physically from that point on.
Hopefully, childhood memories consist of stories of playing and learning through play. I understand that not all of us have those cherished memories and some are impacted like our friend mentioned above. Unfortunately tragedy happens, and as children we need the strength of the community and loved ones to help us navigate through such events.
Our childhood should be about learning how to interact with others and become a part of a community outside of your immediate family. It should be about learning how to connect with others whose family life might be completely different from your own family life. It should be about learning about other cultures and family values that help us transition from childhood into adulthood.
What did we learn from playing with our Barbie dolls, or playing dress up, or fighting over who would be Davie Jones? We learned that every individual has an important part of each formed community and every individual has something to offer. Not everyone can be Barbie or Ken, but everyone has something to bring to the table. We learned to compromise with others and how to share with others. We learned to be respectful of others. We learned that communities are important in molding us and shaping us into young adults. I am thankful for my childhood and I am thankful for a childhood friend who took the initiative to contact us and reconnect.