Recently I wrote about the will of my 3x great-grandfather Edward Haase, which revealed the existence of an illegitimate son. In it, he left money to the boy's mother to care for him and to provide for his schooling and upbringing. Because the money was designated for this express purpose, the boy's mother, Catherine Graham, had to provide an accounting of the money she spent on her son, and it's a really interesting glimpse into the every day life of raising (or being) an 11 year old boy in 1920...
There's the usual clothing items - a winter coat in January, a bathing suit in August. Just like now, Catherine had to take her son to the doctor, and she had to pay the bill. But the accounting reveals other interesting details about her son's life at that time - in June of 1920 he joined the Boy Scouts, and he had to buy him a uniform, a canteen, a knapsack, a knife, and all the other little knick knacks a Scout would need (any parent nowadays who has a kid in a sport or activity can relate to the long list of items you need to buy so your kid can participate!)
That August the boy went to Boy Scout camp, and he also started playing baseball. He must have spent a lot of time riding his bicycle because in September, it needed to be repaired. In June of 1921, he made his First Communion, and his mother bought him a new suit. That September, at the age of 12, Catherine enrolled him in a military boarding school in Ossining, New York. He came home for Thanksgiving, and that winter, he went ice skating.
There's nothing extraordinary in this list of activities and items bought for them. They're all extremely ordinary. But most of us, in our day to day lives, live in the ordinary, not the extraordinary, and to see a mother and son nearly 100 years ago engaging in the ordinary day to day activities and shopping that we do today with our families, humanizes our ancestors and helps connect us to the past.