I remember our Medeiros family get-togethers every summer in Lanikai when I was a child.

NOTE: pick the correct link

My papa, Edwin Medeiros, was one of 16 brothers and sisters. Needless to say, we had a large extended family on his side.

Our Lanikai summers would bring everyone together. My cousin Clive and his family would fly down from Southern California, and this prompted the call to gather.

During the day we would swim, kayak, play volleyball, hunt for seashells, and then kanikapila all evening. Clive’s wife, Maryann, would make her famous shrimp ceviche while we talked story sitting around the kitchen island.

Grandma would bring her ukulele and cousin Joy would dance her well-known hapa haole hula to the local version of the “12 Days of Christmas,” even if it was only July. We would chuckle uproariously in unison with every line: “On the first day of Christmas my tutu gave to me . . . and one myna bird in one papaya tree!”

Ukulele on sale at a Maui store. They resurrect memories that can help us inform our future. Flickr: Ian Ransley

These gatherings are my most treasured memories of “small kid time” — the glorious days of youth as a local kid, born and bred as a child of these islands.

If you grew up in Hawaii, you have your small kid time memories too. When I listened to my grandparents and parents tell their tales of yesteryear, I would wonder about a time in Hawaii before I was born.

‘What We Know To Be True’

These stories are filled with innocence, simplicity, and pure charm. Holding on to these memories helps us to lift our hearts and gain our bearings when things seem uncertain.

We latch on to small kid time because it’s what we know to be true — the most authentic reminder of who we are and where we came from amid the curveballs the world presents.

Thinking about small kid time led me on a trek to peruse an online archived newspaper database. It has been a riveting experience browsing through Hawaii newspapers from the early 1900s through the late 1990s.

This new hobby has sparked an interesting question for me: How can we move forward as a state while holding on to the gems derived from small kid time?

Now of course my small kid time occurred in the 1980s and 1990s, which I realize presents a different set of circumstances than when my parents experienced small kid time in the 1960s and 1970s, or when Papa Edwin grew up in the 1920s and 1930s.

My belief is that small kid time is more than each individual’s memories of childhood. It’s a feeling that conjures an emotional response — a nostalgic connection to a time of exploring culture and place as a youngster. It’s a desire for the familiar as we embark on uncharted waters. It’s a feeling similar to aloha, all-encompassing and emblazoned with positive energy.

While looking through past articles, I read Linda Tagawa’s column titled “Small Kid Time” in the Island Life section of The Honolulu Advertiser. Tagawa recounts fond memories of her childhood in Hawaii.

In one story, she reminisces about picking green mangoes from the trees in her yard, which she would eat with shoyu. Small kid time stories are usually told from a euphoric perspective — as good times.

Small kid time also points toward a practical and environmental mindset. The “less is more” mentality of how life was growing up is pivotal in keeping our land green, and our oceans and sky clean. We can evolve, build, and grow, however, we must do so pragmatically and strategically.

We often lack this approach nowadays. A case in point is the new affordable housing project at 460 Kawainui Street in Kailua fronting Oneawa Street, near where my dad grew up. A group of Kailua folks has been in an uproar recently over this project for various reasons, but mainly due to its odd location and questionable plans.

The pandemic threw a wrench in an already fragile time for our state.

I share their concerns. Do we need inexpensive housing? Absolutely.

However, we need to think critically about how these projects come to fruition. Some may blame the pushback on a “not in my backyard” theory, however that is not the case here. We need to seek logical approaches that are intertwined with common sense and creativity when resolving problems.

Looking back provides insight into where we are now, and how we got here. The pandemic threw a wrench in an already fragile time for our state. It’s all hands on deck now for medical needs, providing food to families, and economic recovery.

We analyze the situation accordingly, and then we recalibrate. But have we navigated so far off the map that we cannot find our way back home — of that version of our romanticized Hawaii memories?

With hope and a dash of naiveté, I think it’s possible that while striving for progress, modernization, and keeping up with the times, we can simultaneously perpetuate the spirit of small kid time.

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