The longer I live overseas and raise TCKs, the more I firmly believe my husband and I must tell stories from our childhood. We must connect them to our family “back home” in some way. I also am coming to realize the importance of getting the stories from our parents when we are back with them. These stories are like a tapestry that is woven together to make a beautiful rug to hang on the wall.
I’m a mono-culture kid and knew my grandparents (well one set) VERY well. I spent countless summer days out on the farm searching for adventure with my cousin in the back woods. We were explorers looking for fossils in the creek bed – lost in our own world. We helped gather the eggs in the extremely pungent smelling hen house, stack hay in the barn, and feed any orphaned lambs that ended up in the house. My life was drastically different than my children – but they love to hear stories about that life – especially if they involve mom getting stuck in the muddy garden and having to be pulled out with a 3-wheeler (those were the days before the ATV), only to loose said boots.
And though my husband’s life is similar to my own children – he is a TCK; there are some differences…like furloughs in Germany where he went to a very small country school and learned how to buy cigarettes (those were the days they sold them in vending machines on the street); or the time they returned to the field and he sat in class for months staring blankly as he didn’t understand anything the American teacher said. Stories connect the past with the present.
That’s why I think it is important to learn the stories from our parents and grandparents. Take the time to sit and “interview” them when we have those opportunities. Make the most of those few weeks/months we have with them to hear their stories.
Summer is approaching and many of you will be headed back to visit family. I challenge you to sit down and write out some questions you are curious about. Write them down….you’ll forget them if you don’t because we know how we get all caught up in the cuteness of the baby nieces and nephews to remember what it was that we wanted to know. And as you are listening to the stories, record them – make a video or write it down. Then share them with your kids…I believe it is one way we can link our children to their extended family that they see every few years.
Stories help us explain to our children who we are and ultimately who they are – and possibly help them see that their own stories will only add more color to the weaving pattern of the family tapestry of life.
Need some help getting started on questions…here’s some I thought up:
- What is your fondest memory during your childhood days?
- What was school like for you? Did you go to a public school? a country school?
- How did you get there? Any story you can remember about a time going to school?
- Did you date (insert mom, dad, grandma, etc)? How did you meet?
- Ask about important historical events that would have happened during their lifetime and ask what they remember of that day….how did it affect them?
This is great Madonna! My father started to record his memoirs a few years before he passed away. I am so thankful for those stories. I collected them and had them printed into a book – it is a treasure to me and my brother as well as all the grandkids. I know if my father had lived longer there would be more stories. It made me realize that I also need to be writing my stories. This post reminds me to keep at it! And to also include other family members’ stories, and be intentional about making those conversations happen and recording them! Thanks!
That is so precious, Beth. I love the idea of a book to remember them by. I know I filled out a book of some sort with my grandmother years ago, but I’m not sure where that book is. Maybe my sister has it. I need to do it with my mother…I sure don’t want to miss out on those stories. Thanks for sharing this idea!
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Where is the photo of the first grade class taken? The little blond boy in the front center sure looks familiar! (Annie Wu Su, Bethany ’89)
Too funny! I’ll have to get him to comment on this, but I’m sure it was on the MCA Taichung campus. 😉