So I took my kids to an author signing last night, and I was reminded again about childhood memories take shape. Because I know that they will remember this night. We went to see author Shannon Hale, who has written several of our favorite books, including The Goose Girl and The Princess Academy. Which, by the way, are really excellent books and you should go out and buy them now. None of this "I don't read children's lit" baloney. Excellent books, doesn't matter the categorization.
So part of me wonders how much of a role I play in making these memories, because I have a feeling the actions I take and ways I talk about things is a big part of how they code memories for long-term storage. As if I needed something more to obsess about in terms of this ridiculously huge responsibility of raising kids! But I also think that they have a strong sense in themselves of what's special, why something is special, and they hold onto those things.
It probably helps/contributed that I was a giddy fan girl in this case. I just love the words Shannon Hale uses to convey her meaning. We listened to the above two books (and a third, Enna Burning) on audio book, and they were excellent. They're done by Full Cast Audio, which sounds fantastic because they use a cast to do the voice acting rather than just a single voice actor (not that single actors aren't great, but the cast lends a whole different dimension to the stories in my opinion. So long as they aren't classically-trained stage actors, that is. We did an audio book like that one and I swear they were projecting right though the back speakers and out the back door of the car!)
So I was arguably as excited as the kids were (plus Shannon Hale is a mom, a person "of a certain age" like me, and has had success in selling her writing...something I aspire to.)
But on these "special" days (like Anastasia's birthday last year, too) it's interesting to me how they act, because they totally get the specialness of the day, and while I worry that it is going to be a source of stress, instead they responded beautifully. Their behavior was great, even though we had to wait a long time for our turn to get our books signed. They also just got it, they wrote these heart meltingly cute notes to Shannon to give to her when we got our books signed (which she sweetly took,) they let me take their pictures over and over and smiled on command.
On the way down, we talked about the books of hers we had read, Anastasia again astounded us with her amazing recall for place and people names and storyline details - we read Goose Girl last summer I believe and she had Princess Anidora Caladra's full name on the tip of her tongue.
During the author discussion, they listened and looked back at me at times (including when I exclaimed aloud at discovering that Shannon Hale's favorite book when she was younger was The Blue Sword, by Robin McKinley, which is my all-time favorite fantasy book.) Anastasia got the hang of the way the author was asking the audience to ask questions, and she eventually raised her hand to ask a question ("Where do you come up with the titles of your books?" which led to an interesting discussion about place names and how some books don't have titles until the very end, and how some books have different titles in different languages.)
And to think, I was going to get a sitter. I would have missed this new indelible memory, these markers of childhood. True, the kids went to bed later than usual. Okay, much later. And I took them to school late today. Much later than usual. Oops. But, it was worth every second.