(An A to Z Challenge entry)
Similar to remembering my dreams, I’d like to think I have a fairly good memory when it comes to remembering my childhood. But I also know that these memories are likely to fade the older I get, so writing them down is important.
So in this post, I will recall snippets of my earliest, or first, memories.
- My family moved into the house I grew up in right after my 2nd birthday. I don’t remember anything from our first house but I remember one memory from the first days in our new house. I remember seeing our neighbors across the street, a couple, lounging in lawn chairs in summer clothes. My birthday is September 7, so it couldn’t have been too late into the month. The thing I remember most was the man was a paraplegic. In more recent years, I confirmed with my parents that this was in fact true.
- I have a very vague memory of laying on the floor of my grandma’s old house and petting her cat Snoopy. I also remember drinking Nesquik chocolate milk at her table (which is now my parents’ dining room table). I couldn’t have been older than 2.
- When my childhood best friend moved in across the street. Her cheery smile ran up to greet me as I played on the swing set. You see, I needed glasses, but when I was three, I didn’t have them yet. And so I had this look — which really was me squinting because I couldn’t see a damn thing. You know that look. When she ran across the street, the first thing she said was, “Are you Chinese!?” Of course I am not, but her little two year old self simply associated my squinty eyes as another ethnicity.
- When I was three, I remember sitting on my grandpa’s lap while he was in his rocking chair.
These are the memories I recall age three and younger. Research scientists say that most adults cannot recall memories before age 3, and most recollections most commonly fall between ages 3 – 7 and often aided by photographs.
Our earliest memories may remain blocked from our consciousness because we had no language skills at that time. Verbalizing our personal memories of events contributes to our autobiographical memories. These types of memories help to define our sense of self and relationship to people around us. Closely linked to this is the ability to recognize yourself. Some researchers have proposed that children do not develop self-recognition skills and a personal identity until 16 or 24 months. Research has shown that the way parents verbally recall memories with their small children correlates to those children’s narrative style for retelling memories later in life.
So the fact that I have any memories before age 3 are actually pretty good, and the way I see it, I not only will verbalize them, but I will write them down, so that with age, I don’t lose even these finest details of my younger self.
What is the first memory you have as a child? Do you too find it hard to remember details before age three?