Tuesday, March 24, 2015

On Childhood

All these pictures are throwbacks from this time last year.
It warmed up really early - by the end of March we were enjoying lots of outdoor activities.

While playing with Matthew and Emma yesterday afternoon, I began to reflect on childhood and what a fleeting, sacred time it is in life and how childhood experiences shape the adults we all become. As a child, I remember always using my imagination to be other people, in other places, doing more exciting things than riding my bike in a circle around our one-story home in Montana. I remember looking forward to my next birthday the day after my last one. Reaching "double digits" was a milestone that seemed to take a million years in my little child brain. Waiting for Christmas made December the longest month of the year. I couldn't wait to be a teenager, to enter high school, to start driving, to graduate from high school, to go to college, to get married, to start a family, and so on. I was always trying to fast forward my childhood and catapult myself into adulthood. Do all children do this?

I see signs of this desire to grow up in my son. He is always looking forward to the "next thing" rather than enjoying the moment he is in. This has only been a recent behavioral development and I have been trying my best to encourage him to enjoy his time as a child. Because, in the average lifespan of a person, it really is a very, very short period of time.

Paul and I often have discussions about how we used to view the world as children. It always amazes us to discover we shared some very similar playtime activities while growing up. Along with our siblings, we liked to pretend play Robin Hood and Winnie-the-Pooh by assigning each sibling to a specific character based on their personality, looks, or what have you. For the record, Paul was always "Gopher" and I was "Rabbit" while playing Winnie-the-Pooh. No sibling was ever assigned the role of Christopher Robin (we tried once, but that person refused). To this day, I think those are still the characters that best align with our personalities. We also found it funny that we used to refer to certain candies we would receive in our treat bags on Halloween - like Smarties - as our "medicine". We also both admired and loved Davy Crockett - and would both pretend to be him during play. Did I mention that I was a major tomboy and used to be quite disappointed that I was a girl? Boys always seemed to have more fun - all the little girls I grew up with wanted to pretend to "play house" or have tea parties. I wanted to be a cowboy!

Over the years, several of my girlfriends have reflected on how they wish they could have had a glimpse of what their husbands were like as children and see if their childhood personalities are at all reflected in the men they are today. I realize that I am quite lucky to have actually known my spouse as a child. We were only eight or so when we first met and I have some very distinct memories of Paul and his twin Peter being complete imps. They were very, very small in stature so they had to make up for it by being complete pains. Plus, there were two of them so they could gang up and take down someone twice their size. I always thought they were wonderful because, despite the incessant teasing, they were very, very kind and sweet. In my sixth grade diary, I wrote about one encounter that occurred between Paul and I during literature class. We were seated next to one another during a reading exam and, as was typical during those days, we were to grade one another's papers at the end. Paul handed my test back to me and said: "You got 100%. Congratulations, you must be smart!" This was very high praise coming from a Nistler twin and I knew it. I was having some major self-esteem problems during that year and never considered myself to be "smart" in an academic sense. Paul's words, even though uttered a bit flippantly, gave me a much-needed confidence boost in my own intelligence and abilities as a student.

How does childhood Paul compare to adult Paul? He's pretty much the same - just older, wiser, more reserved, with less hair (much less hair). He still giggles the same, loves to play pranks, adores reading the comics or watching a good cartoon. One time a while back, we went to see a children's movie at the theater and he embarrassed me so much because he was laughing harder than anyone else - complete with slapping his knees and gasping for breath. The best part was when we were walking out of the movie, he commented that "it wasn't that good." Please. You almost died from asphyxiation.

While watching Matthew and Emma play and use their imaginations - Emma was "making coffee" for Matthew at the play kitchen and he was building a "T-Rex for a pet" - I realized what a distinct privilege it is for me to know my children as children. I will watch them grow, evolve, and change into adults, at which time they will go leave our home and have their own families, careers, vocations and responsibilities. I get to see them as children, now, and help guide and form them into adulthood. I will encourage them not to grow up too fast but rather to savor this time of imagination, play, discovery, learning, and care-free living.

This concludes the random musings on childhood of an extremely tired, coffee-deprived (our coffee maker isn't working!!!!) pregnant mama.

I'm linking this post up for Tuesday Talk. Visit and check out the other entries here.

Sweet Little Ones


  1. Awwww, I think I've told Matt before too that I would have liked to see what he was like a child, or even in high school since we went to the same school for 3 years, probably crossed paths hundreds of times, and yet never met. How cool that you actually did know Paul as a child.

    1. It is so funny that you and Matt probably did cross paths so much before you actually became the cute couple you are today! I keep forgetting that it wasn't until college that you two got together. I still remember John Z. telling me and Shannon a story about you two working together at Saint Jude and how Matt stole your shoes or something. He predicted that you two were going to get married and he was right!