Sometimes a walk down memory lane will lead you straight to the front porch of the home you grew up in, or raised your own family. It’s a great “field trip” to teach children about their roots and it may be cathartic for you as well. I have six kids and decided to show each of them the apartment or house where they spent their childhood days. We were able to recapture a lot of nostalgia, get good photos, and even release some emotional baggage from visiting our environments of yesteryear. So would you dare go back?? I say yes!
8 Of My Best Tips On Implementing This Unusual Endeavor:
- Mystery and Adventure: Approach this in an impromptu fashion. Don’t tell children in advance where you’re going and why. It could lead to disappointment if the new owners aren’t home or worse, uncooperative. The house could be torn down or surrounded with one of those charming huge termite tents. I made the mistake of enticing my 6-year-old son with viewing his old bedroom and when the new owners refused, he pounded on the door shouting, “Let me in or I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house down.”
- Be reassuring! When you ring the bell of your old home, remember everything is familiar to you, but you’re complete strangers to the people answering the door! Set the new owner’s mind at ease that you’re not a realtor or soliciting magazines. Say something like, “Oh look Darling, there’s the same threshold you carried me over after our wedding, you tiger!” Be prepared for them to mentally calculate how much you weigh and scrutinize the size of your husband’s arms. Also, upon departing, resist the urge to place an “Open House!” sign on their lawn.
- Offer evidence. Say something very specific that will prove you really lived there. In the case of the home where I was pregnant with twins, we had written a little term of endearment on the floor tile where my water broke. “Little Fishies Started Here!” When I marched the current residents over to the exact spot to show them this cute piece of trivia, they had constructed an aquarium on top of it. Hmmm. I shudder to think what they would’ve built had we scrawled, “Conception took place here.”
- Stay a short time. You’re not arriving with your wedding china and recreating a family dinner. Ten minutes is the maximum you should stay if they’re willing to give you a brief tour.
- Don’t Be Nosy. It’s not a good idea to ask if your neighbor across the street ever got that much needed nose job. And for goodness sake, don’t critique their decorating skills. The last thing they’ll want to hear is that you can’t believe they put their bed against the same wall you used to keep the diaper pail.
- No Bad News. Try not to walk through their kitchen reminiscing about the time little Sarah choked on a chicken bone. Or confess your dog peed all over the master bedroom carpeting. One time I was thrown out because I took a little creative license (from the Poltergeist movie) and announced the home was built on top of old Indian burial grounds. Sheesh. No sense of humor.
- Don’t Get Emotional. If you’re prone to sentimentality when you look through old photos or watch home movies, prepare yourself in advance. I learned the hard way when we visited the home my beloved architect father designed for us. I burst into tears as soon as I saw the lovely stained glass windows in my bedroom had been replaced with bricks, the pink walls were painted gray and my white shag carpeting turned into concrete. The only thing missing was a hole in the ground for a toilet and it could’ve been Cellblock 9.
- Leave on a high note. Thank them profusely for their hospitality and give them a joyful parting tidbit like, “We hope you’ll have many happy occasions here just like our Christmas family reunions!” Clamp your hand over your kid’s mouth if he starts to say things like “Yeah, and Santa Clause NEVER delivers the good toys that need assembly to this house. And the tooth fairy always leaves “IOU” notes under the pillow!”