When my middle child, Evie, was three years old I would often stop by a Salem cafe that had a drive thru window to order coffee while on our way to preschool. This cafe was called Jack Rabbit and it has now been closed for almost 7 years. Like most cafe drive thrus Jack Rabbit displayed other goodies in the window like muffins, biscotti, and cookies to purchase. To play off the rabbit theme, there were always sugar cookies shaped like a bunny face with big ears and whiskers. Because the bunny cookies were a higher priced, speciality item, I would rarely splurge and buy one cookie to split among my three kids. Fast forward 7 years later. . .
Two weeks ago I was driving towards downtown Salem to drop Evie off at volleyball camp. As we passed the cafe that was formerly known as Jack Rabbit, which has now been a Mexican restaurant for years, Evie said, “Mama, remember you would buy us bunny cookies there? You used to give me one of the ears. The ears were always my favorite part. I miss those cookies.” I could immediately feel goosebumps on my arms. What I thought was a quick coffee fix for me and just another mundane event in our daily routine years ago, is actually a significant memory for her. She remembers the feelings of excitement of pulling up to the drive thru window and seeing the cookies displayed. She remembers my actions of pulling off the plastic wrap and carefully breaking the cookie into three somewhat equal pieces. She remembers the taste of the sweet, pink icing on the bunny ear she got. She remembers nibbling around the ear slowly, not shoving the whole thing into her mouth like her brother did. Long after I passed what used to be Jack Rabbit Cafe, Evie was lost deep in a full monologue about this cookie for at least 5 minutes. I drove in silence and listened as she described the whole memory from the lens of when she was 3 years old.
If you have ever read the famous books by Laura Numeroff (If you give a mouse a cookie, If you give a moose a muffin, If you give a pig a pancake, etc.) you will find that the stories are so much more than the titles give away. It’s never about just the cookie, just the muffin, or just the pancake. It’s about the ongoing actions of love that unfold from the simple cookie, the mundane muffin, and the predictable pancake. As parents we bring the everyday world to life for our children whether those efforts are intentional or not. We may spend weeks planning the most spectacular birthday party with the goal of making this year’s gala to be the most memorable for our children. However, we overlook that everyday is full of opportunities to bring each moment alive for our children. The easiest way to find these moments of “being alive” is to ask your children. At the end of the day before good night kisses ask, ‘What was the best part of the day for you? What was the hardest/most challenging?” It is always interesting to see what memories are forming for them at the end of each day.
I’ve started a routine with Evie now at night. I’ll ask her, “What was your bunny cookie today?”–meaning what moment was special to her. It’s an inside memory that she and I have, it’s our “bunny cookie.”