My 10 Most Unforgettable Childhood Moments

noun /ˈmōmənt/

An exact point in time.
An appropriate time for doing something, an opportunity.
A particular stage in something’s development or in a course of events.

Ever since the Grass Stain Guru re-posted her “10 Can’t Miss Childhood Moments” I’ve been thinking about my own list. To be honest, a wave of moments flooded my mind even before I’d finished reading her list.

I actually read her post a few weeks ago, and have been sitting on my own list ever since.  I think I was taken aback by how quickly my own list came to my mind.  Nothing involving writing ever comes quickly to me.  And besides, the things on my list are all so… so simple.  I thought if I stewed on it a little more, I would probably come up with a different list that included some incredibly inspirational moments; things that beat the ten that first came to my mind. Here I am weeks later and nothing else has occurred to me.

Are these really “can’t miss” moments?  They were to me.  And that, I’ve decided is the key to ‘can’t miss moments’. There isn’t any one thing that every kid should experience.  More important is just that they experience something.

  1. Dangling my legs off a tailgate, while bumping down a dirt road.
    Back before the days of seat belts my parents would throw us all in back of their 1971 Ford pickup. As soon as we hit a dirt road, down came the tailgate and over the edge came six little pairs of feet. We’d watch for lizards and snakes while the dust slowly coated our scrawny legs.
  2. Serving mud pies on a set of rock dishes.
    I never had a tea set as a child, nor did I pretend to serve cucumber sandwiches.  Instead I made mud-pies and served them on sandstone plates.  And at the end of each day I’d wash my dishes in the canal and stack them neatly in the ‘kitchen’ in my hut.
  3. Making a hut.
    Seems like every season of my life came complete with its own hut. Up high in a Tamarisk tree, in a cave on the edge of a cliff, between two rocks tilted together, a shack nailed together in the backyard or in a hole we had dug in the ground. My siblings/friends and I always had a place of our own, where we could seek refuge from adults,  reality, and at times the neighborhood bully.  Those huts were the backdrop to many an adventure and more than a few daydreams.
  4. Breathing in the view after a long hard hike.
    This is a moment that was repeated several times as I grew up. Two stand out in particular:  the view from Scouts Lookout in Zion National Park (photo above), after hiking in from the West Rim, and seeing Havasu Falls after trying hard not to cry from the weight of my pack on my first backpack trip.  How is it that, in the beauty of a spectacular view, the rewards of hard work can so clearly manifest?
  5. Playing capture the flag in a canyon at night.
    It was never the game that interested me so much as it was the sneak-factor.  My senses were re-prioritized in the dark, and what I heard was so much more important than what I saw.  I remember being aware of the sounds around me.  Especially my own.
  6. Flying cicadas.
    I don’t recall ever flying a kite. But we used to catch cicadas, tie a piece of string to their leg, and then hold on as they tried to fly around the yard.  I can still hear the racket of their wings and see their bodies, blurred and silhouetted against the sun.
  7. Visiting critters at night.
    The night was such a mystery to me.  Creatures that hid from us during the day dominated when the sun set.  Like something from a dream, only these things were real!  My siblings and I would take a spotlight out into the hills to find kangaroo rats. They would freeze in the light. We would pick them up, marvel at their size, their tails, their warmth and fragility, and then let them go.  And instead of a campfire, we would often sit around a different kind of light at night:  a black-light.  We would stay up til the wee hours, oohing and aahing over the otherwise unseen insects that would make their way to us when we put up a white sheet and shined a black-light on it.
  8. Spending an afternoon on the edge of the river.
    I grew up within walking distance of the Virgin River. In the summers we would skim board, find a swimming hole, or cover our bodies in mud and try to scare cars on the bridge. Many of my favorite moments involved me and a good friend, sitting by the river and chatting while we buried our feet in the mud.
  9. Sleeping out under the stars on the trampoline.
    I remember being awake after everyone else had gone to sleep, looking up at the night sky.  Silent.  Brilliant white stars engulfed in overwhelming blackness.  I remember trying to see into the blackness, to make my way deep into the galaxy.
  10. Making bike trails at the local vacant lot.
    Me on the bike my Grandpa made me, filthy, breathing hard, completely alive.  And scared witless.  Afraid to go fast enough to ‘catch air’.  Until I did. And after that I could do anything.

Did you have ‘moments’ pop up from your childhood? What we’re they? I would love to compile a list from readers. Please share!

16 Comments so far

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  1. My top three:
    1) Sitting out the windows of the jeep while we cruised down dirt roads at 3 miles an hour.
    2) Catching lizards by sneaking a finger underneath their chins while they sunned themselves on rocks.
    3) Canoeing, canoeing, canoeing

  2. I love, love, love this! I’m going to have to post my own list now! Course, it’s going to take me a while to ponder such a tough question … :-)

    • Debi – Ya, you really should. Making a list is actually quite therapeutic. But take your time…

  3. LOVE LOVE LOVE!! Oh, the tailgate image brings back SO many memories. That mix of risk with freedom and pure joy on a warm summer night. Nothing better.

    I’m so glad my lil old post inspired another!

    xo- Bethe @balmeras, The Grass Stain Guru

    • Bethe – Thanks for inspiring the post! I loved writing out this list. The tailgate one was my very first thought, something about it…

  4. Of all childhood wonder “moments” to recall on a 95-degree late June day: I remember fondly building dams of ice and snow in street gutters, backing up the melt water into huge reservoirs, then experimenting with diversion channels, small breaches and then total collapse of the dam. Don’t we all yearn to be that much in the moment again?

    • Jeffery – Thanks! I love this. I feel like I was there… Yes, to be totally in the moment…

  5. Andree'

    I love this! The tailgate thing…. having 3 older brothers, a component to that was jumping (or getting pushed) off and then having to scramble to get back on. So fun!

    • Andree’ – Haahaa. I love it. Ya, that may have happened a time or two to me as well. Thanks!

  6. Ooh, now you’ve got me thinking about my top 10. I’m not up to 10 yet, but here are the first few that came to my mind:

    1. Many many uninterrupted hours in the unfinished (therefore “wild”) part of our suburban backyard spent discovering slime molds, shooting star flowers, banana slugs…
    2. the summer my friend and I would read a billion library books then go ride bikes and explore in the forest, away from home for HOURS at a time, deep in conversation and adventure.
    3. fossil hunting.
    4. the time my dad took just my sister and I camping when my brother was a newborn. Mostly memorable due to the coyotes which kept my sister awake followed by the monster thunderstorm which chased us into the car at 2am followed by running over a porcupine in the dark and rain, then picking up a drunk hitchhiker lady and returning home to our very flustered and confused mom in the wee hours of the morning. So maybe that particular memory isn’t something I’d wish on anyone, but rather the experience of a camping trip gone memorably (yet safely) awry.
    5. many hours of mud play. I *heart* mud.

    • MamaBee – I love them all! And while I read this I could picture Cora doing all of them. Well, hopefully not #4 but, but I loved #4. Many moments to smile upon. Thanks!

  7. Rachel Walker

    Hi there! I wrote “Making Time”—thanks so much for the shout out!! Cheers, Rachel

  8. Revisiting this post to add that Josh and I had a nice long conversation during our weekend drive to the New River Gorge about memorable childhood moments outdoors, courtesy of this post. Also, Cora just had her first drive-across-a-river moment and first ride in the back of a pickup this weekend, and I’m hoping those may make her list someday. Thanks for this!

    • MamaBee – I’m so glad I could spark a conversation AND that Cora got to ride on the back of a pick-up. Ahhh, many good moments there… I want to hear about your trip to NRG, heard a lot about it, never been!


    I'm Lindsey. I'm an environmental educator, my husband's a biologist. The outdoors is infused into everything we do; which explains why I'm better at mud pies than home decorating. More About Me

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