Keeping up with the Holsbys
When I wrote Memory-Go-Round I received this comment (via email) from Danielle.
It was morning and I was sitting on my nappy padded butt on the landing between two flights of stairs. It was warm because sun was streaming through the window above me and the dust motes were dancing in the rays. I wondered what they were, because it seemed as though there were so many ‘things’ in the air but they just disappeared into nothingness once they hit the cool of the shade.
I had a tube of forest green paint which was on the ground between my chubby feet.
I had squeezed some of the paint onto the biscuit coloured sisal and I couldn’t pick it up, so I was trying to poke it into the grooves to hide it.
That’s it. That’s my earliest childhood memory. When I described it to my mother we worked out that I was just two years old.
Why did my brain pick this memory to cling on to? I know for a fact that there were more exciting moments, or more amazing experiences than this. There is photographic evidence. I have seen pictures of my toddler self sunning my buns in the Canary Islands, and making snow men in the car park of the hotel we owned at that time. Are these my first memories, or indeed, memories at all? No, alas, they have forever gone from the archives of my brain.
What was so special about that moment?
When I read your blog about first memories, it made my tummy feel all funny. Not because my own first memories are anything weird or awkward but because there is something so magical in all of them that they really affected me.
The thing that really strikes me is the very fact that the devil appears to be in the details. Although your recollection is often done through the eyes of a child, your recall of that one particular moment is uncannily clear. The light, the feelings, the sounds, smells……they are embedded forever in our psyche.
There has been much research into the matter of first memories, or more specifically, when we start to form what become known as memories.
Generally, most adults’ earliest memories are at around the age of 4. The thinking behind this has been that children don’t have the cognitive capabilities to process events to be stored as memories. Recent research at Canada’s Memorial University of Newfoundland confirmed that even very young children can recall past events.
It seems, according to this research, that we continually replace our first memories for the first 10 years, until one somehow sticks.
Not for me, though, nor many people who’s earliest memories are at around 2 years old. It’s certainly not uncommon.
All of this makes me wonder about my 2 and a half year old son. Has his first memory already been set? What is it? Which little insignificant moment has cemented itself to be ‘the thing’?
The one memory known as his first hereafter?
Would it be the seagulls flying and crying out to him to throw more bread on that windy winter’s morning we went to the beach, or would it be the day I lost my cool and smacked him on the leg in the car park of the local supermarket?
I used to take him with me while I got my bikini line waxed but once he hit about 1.5 years I decided I would hate that to be his first memory – Mama, legs all akimbo – that’d do damage for sure.
No, I’d love him to remember one quiet night in bed when I pressed my lips to his hair and whispered that I loved him, or what I’d really, really love is if he remembered that Hoot the Owl birthday cake I slaved over for his second birthday.
Yeah, that’d be a cool first memory.
That cake rocked.