The Arts and Childhood

I was recently listening to a podcaster who mentioned wanting to see a movie coming out about a character we all loved from childhood and a loss of innocence. Other than what he said, I know nothing about the movie but from his description, I’m not likely to see it. But he also mentioned one thing that stuck with me: having children lets you relive your childhood again. And this brought me nostalgia and comfort.

When we are young, we wish for nothing but to grow up. Then there is a precarious balance between freedom and security in the later teenage years. Suddenly, you’re an adult with responsibilities, ownership, and that ever-present sense of fleeting time. This is uncomfortable, and many people faced with adulthood wish only to relive their childhood days and resist this maturity. But for those of us with kids, we get this opportunity after a fashion. With the joy of raising children, there are these pauses in time, even if only for moments. In that laugh of your daughter during a favorite film, or the rapture of your son during a song; your family together enjoying a painting in a museum, or reliving adventures with your favorite characters in books. You can’t relive your childhood exactly, but you get to experience and appreciate your child’s childhood as they grow up. These moments come and go, but I try to remember to cherish them as they come. And these moments seem to come when I share the arts with my kids.

Now there is good and bad in sharing the arts with my kids. I don’t remember everything from every movie or book, and I must be more careful about any new shows or films. And yet, these times are still good with the struggles. Someone close to me, who had a very rough childhood, says she treasures these times with her kids – reading books and watching Disney movies – because they let her have the childhood she didn’t get. This thought makes me look for the moments even more. Now, like our weekly pancake day, we have a bi-weekly pizza night where we watch childhood movies with our kids. I specifically search for the books I remember reading so they can share in these joys.

But there is more to sharing the arts than “just sharing things I loved with my kids,” and this brings me to perhaps my favorite part. Yes, there is the nostalgia, the quasi “I get to be a kid again” moments, the fun times together. But I am also connecting the past to the future. I get to bring in art, music, literature, and film that have been beloved for decades, or centuries, and place them into the hands and minds of those who will live after me. I get to give my children memories and culture, a connection to the past with a hope for what is to come. I am preserving as I am cultivating, and this is something I love. This is something more than dwelling in nostalgia.

In “relieving your childhood,” you get more than reliving moments or lost time. You multiply time, showing the good and the bad, and discussing it. You preserve old loves for a future endearment. You create memories that form new memories. You are conserving good and beautiful things. It is a beautiful thing, creation – its physical, temporal, yet undying self. So enjoy these little ones you have made, and share with them these moments through time in the things you once loved.
Blessings to you and yours,

~Madelyn Rose Craig

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