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What Sparks A Childhood Memory

All it takes is to hear the catchphrase, as in the title of this article, or to hear the theme tune of an old television programme and immediately you are transported back to your childhood. Romper, bomper, stomper, boo was what the hostess of Romper Room used to say when she looked through her mirror to see all the children in television land. I can remember it as if it was yesterday.

Constant disappointment marred my childhood when I would faithfully watch children’s programme, Romper Room, every day yet the hostess never read out my name. I tried to be a good girl as she advised, I asked my mum to write in which she assured me she had, and I watched and played along, acting out all the things that went on in the programme. Still my name was never read out but I still have fond memories of that time.

And it’s not just the TV programmes. There are sights and smells that can immediately transport you back to your early years. My parents brought my old teddy bears out of their loft retirement recently for my grandson to play with. However, while I’m quite sure they didn’t smell like that, my parents assure me that they did, due to my insistence that they weren’t going to be released long enough for a wash.

The smell of liver also does it for me. I am back to my childhood once again, about seven or eight years old, and remembering the fantastic liver and onion meals my grandmother used to cook for me. There is nothing quite like a grandmothers cooking!

Looking back on my childhood with such fond memories, I can’t help but worry about the children of today and what sort of memories they will have. Of course, where I was all excited when we got our first modern trim phone in the house, today’s youths will know that they got the compulsory mobile for their fifth birthday. I remember the day trips to the seaside and today’s youngsters will remember the stranger danger talks. I remember the days of hanging out at the park with my mates and they will remember the lecture on not to go near the strange man that watches them through the railings.

Of course, it is essential that we teach our children common sense and safety but have we gone too far the other way? Have we taken away their innocence with the fear that someone else will? Have we wrapped them in cotton wool to the degree that they will never fully understand the risks in life until it is too late?

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents say that we are protecting our children too much. They say we should make our environment as safe as necessary, not as safe as possible. They say that it is vital that children take part in activities that may well lead to some strains and sprains, that this will not cause them any lasting danger other than to toughen them up and help them to learn how to judge risks and deal with them themselves.

My own childhood memories consist of running through fields unencumbered by worries of strange men, although I’m pretty certain there would have been some around and I’m pretty sure I would not have gone off with one should they have approached. Nowadays, we have ridiculous events like foam floats being removed from the swimming pool in case they hurt someone and goal posts removed from a football pitch in case someone runs into them. This is what ruins childhoods and hinders memories and that, in the long run, will detract from their quality of life.

Childcare expert Catherine Harvey looks at the way TV programmes such as romper room leave lasting memories.

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