For some of us (like my husband Steve), our parents still live in the same house that we grew up in, and at holidays when we go “back home” and take the kids to visit Grandma and Grandpa- we are returning to the home and the town of our childhood. But for others of us (like myself)- our parents have since sold the home that we grew up, and moved to a totally different (warmer climate!) location. So when we visit Grandpa and Grandma- they hold the extreme benefit of being located close to Mickey Mouse- but because of these circumstances, our kids have never had the chance to see the house we lived in when we were little kids.
I grew up in a suburb of Cleveland known as Mayfield, Ohio- and at least once a year when we make the drive from our home in New York out to visit Steve's family in MIchigan, we drive within 30 miles of the place where I grew up. And in the middle of a long (11 hour) road trip- it never seems like a good idea to make a detour and visit my hometown…. but this summer, we decided to plan for it, and build this stop into our trip. And I am really glad that we did.
My kids were really excited to see the house that I grew up in, and to see the elementary, middle, and high schools that I attended. To hear the stories of how I used to walk to high school, how we used to eat at Denny's at 7am on Friday mornings before the pre-football game pep rally took place at school. To see the public library where I used to sit for hours on hot summer says and read books and buy a little cheese-and-cracker package for 25 cents from the vending machine to eat on the walk back home. To see where my brother and I would head out to go trick or treating, where I used to babysit, and the house only 4 doors down where my grandparents used to live.
Of course, seeing all of these places made the memories come flooding back which helped me to recall so many of these childhood stories to tell. And the kids were all too happy to cast off their headphones and turn off their DVD players and listen to me talk about when I was a little girl. I couldn't wait to take them to visit the same pizzeria that I had loved all through high school- where I ate at least twice a week, and where I couldn't wait to go to when I came home for vacation breaks during college. (And yes, I knew that it would still taste just the same as my brother had made this trek back to our hometown several times himself over the last few years!) Of course it was as fantastic as I remembered, and my kids all begged to come back and visit this place again!
Having devoted the time to spend just a few hours with my family in my old hometown emboldened me to make one more stop back in the past and show another town and memory to my family- and that is the town where I attended college- Bloomington, Indiana at good old Indiana University. I had not been back for a visit since I graduated (are you ready for this?) 24 years ago! I wondered if it would look the same, feel as big as it did to me back then….. would I even remember how to get around? Well the answers are- not exactly the same (there is so much construction and expansion going on that I wonder if the trustees realize that we are in a recession- a post for another day!), no- the campus actually feels smaller to me now than it did when I was going to school there, and yes- I absolutely remember where everything is!
We started our adventure at the sports complex- to show my kids the “sacred venue” that is Assembly Hall (the basketball team won the NCAA championship when I was there in 1987!), and the football stadium (my kids were amazed at the size of it). We then drove past my freshman year dorm, the sorority where I lived during the rest of my years at IU, the business school where I earned my degree, the library, and best of all, the student union- where we stopped for lunch and a little souvenir shopping. We then hiked around the center of campus, stopping at the Showalter Fountain which is where we often gathered to celebrate special school events. It was fun to show my kids my old college campus- and since they had never been to a large (Big 10) college campus before- it gave me them an idea to keep in their heads of what a college feels like and looks like. They really loved it!
So for those of you who have not yet made the opportunity to show off to your kids the town you grew up in or the place where you attended college- let me tell you, it is SUCH a fun thing to do- to walk down memory lane with your kids by your side and get to see your hometown through their eyes! Have any of you tried this? I would love to hear your story!
Have your kids ever seen where you grew up?