Do you remember the first quote that really spoke to you? When you read it, you stopped to think and you never forgot? I guess my first memorized quotes would have been from the bible, like John 3:16. But my first quote that I could recite and remember forever, happened when I was in the 3rd grade. I have an oddly vivid memory of the day I read my first quote.
We were going to pick up some dressers from my Aunt Anns house. She lived in the apartments behind Mazio’s pizza. I had never been in the apartments or even knew that’s what they were. I just knew we passed by them daily and they looked like one really long house with multiple doors. Small town apartments are often just a single story 4plex. On this day, I was actually going inside one of the apartments. To my surprise, it was small. In my mind the whole building was one house! So for the area behind the door to be only a kitchen, living room and bedroom, I was confused. We walked through the bedroom door and the dressers were sitting next to each other, in one long line. Each dresser had 6 drawers and the top was some kind of plastic that was a different color. My Aunt and Mom worked to clear the remaining items and remove the drawers for transport. I happened to pick up a calendar from the top and read the quote:
“Children are like wet cement. Whatever falls on them makes an impression.
I didn’t know how to say the word “cement,” that C that sounds like an S is quite tricky. Plus, when there is a neighboring town with the same name, but everyone pronounces it “See – Mint” you get very confused. I also didn’t know what the word impression meant, so I asked my mom to explain. She said, “Kids are like wet cement, whatever falls on them sticks, it stays with them forever. Even if the thing is gone, there is something left that will always stay”
I thought about that…what was Cement?
What was something that Sticks?
What would stay forever?
Then I thought, I’M a kid…. It’s happening now! What Is happening NOW that is going to stick with me?
What stuck with me that day was the quote. The thought, what is happening right now, would be in my memory forever. My 3rd grade mind didn’t really understand the quote, or just how meaningful my time in Oklahoma would be, to the shaping of my life and the decisions I would make. It was the first time I read something that really made me think.
I have vivid memories throughout my life on certain odd things, and then occurrences I’ve completely forgotten. I think about this quote so much more lately, since I’m raising 3 kids. I’m shaping their lives and their impression of themselves along with the impression of the world. I have a child who is in the same grade I was, when I read this quote. When I started to connect dots about people and places in my childhood.
I think about this today. Children really are like wet cement. That cement is what becomes our foundation, what it used to build the rest of our life. That even if we build strong, elaborate structures, how that cement dried is still there. The time in the elements…the time allowing that cement to harden. Sometimes as adults we have to take it back down to the foundation, rebuild and correct items. All foundations have impressions, an impression is not inherently wrong or negative. It can be positive, it can make the foundation stronger. In raising my kids, I’ve had to face my own impressions about people, places and things. The ‘why’ on some of my own thinking and actions. So with that, I will continue to reconcile my own impressions while simultaneously working to not allow a repeat impression on my children.