Thoughtful Thursday: Earliest

November 1, 2012

Thoughtful Thursday

Welcome to the November Intelligentsia.

#37: Elana from Elana’s Musings
#32: A from Are You Kidding Me?
#30: Lost in Translation from We Say IVF, They Say FIV
#29: Strongblonde from
Strong Blonde
#19: St. Elsewhere
#17: Lori from Write Mind Open Heart
#14: Ana from Ana Begins
#14: Cat
#14: Mel from Stirrup Queens
#12: Sara from Aryanhwy
and new Intelligentsia member Mina from Kmina’s Blog

Thoughtful Thursday34 years ago yesterday, I dressed up as a ballerina and went trick or treating. I clearly remember being inside the house of my next door neighbors, a kindly elderly dentist and his kindly elderly wife; she told me that she had saved a caramel apple just for me. (Can you believe there was a time when people made treats themselves?) I felt so special. I clearly remember going to the other next door neighbor’s house, tripping and falling on their front walk. I felt embarrassed, even though there was no one there except my mother. I vaguely remember going to the neighbor two doors down, with the teenage daughter who babysat me sometimes.

I also clearly remember going shopping for 3rd birthday presents, though I don’t know if that happened just before or just after Halloween, so I’m not sure which is my very earliest memory.

I have a cluster of other memories from right around that time. Some are mundane, like changing the channel on the TV to Sesame Street. Some say something strange about 3-year-old me, like the time I told my father, “I love you more than I love Mommy,” and then a few minutes later telling my mother, “I love you more than I love Daddy.” I remember that so clearly. I was sitting on the stairs with my mother playing a game where she made sound effects when I touched her nose. In the middle of the game, I professed my love. I remember a lot about that day, but I do not remember why I was being so manipulative.

I remember getting a Mickey Mouse phone for my birthday. I clearly remember playing a game where I kept calling my dad using my brand new Mickey Mouse phone with the second phone line. I’d keep calling him and say hello then hang up and call again. At one point, I must have dialed wrong, because I said, “Daddy?” and the guy on the phone was not my daddy. What’s surprising now about this memory is that a few days after my 3rd birthday I not only knew my numbers but could remember and accurately (most of the time, at least) dial a 7-digit phone number. Burrito and Tamale know some of their letters but don’t know any numbers, and they certainly don’t know any phone numbers. My mother was much more adept than I am at working on rote memorization, and she probably spent hours drilling me on that phone number. I can still recite that phone number and that address (we moved away when I was 4 1/2) more easily than almost any other address or phone number from the rest of my life.

Burrito and Tamale are now exactly a month older than I was on that Halloween. Their memories have become so amazing in the past few weeks; they bring up things that happened months ago, or out of nowhere they say something that I casually mentioned weeks ago. Every day they seem to understand and to remember more and more. At any time, something that they experience may become a permanent memory. It oddly feels like my actions and words matter more now than they did before. I’ve always tried to give them the best possible set of life experiences, but now I also feel an odd pressure to give them the best possible set of memories.

What is your earliest memory?

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16 Responses to “Thoughtful Thursday: Earliest”

  1. Ana Says:

    Yes! I’ve been thinking about this, too. B, just shy of 3, has started remembering things from months ago, too. I also feel that pressure, both to give him good memories but also to avoid any accidentally traumatizing ones (I say “accidental” because I don’t think we are doing anything traumatizing, but you never know…). \
    My first clear memory is of walking home from pre-school in Brooklyn with my mom and being pummeled by winds. When we got home, I tried to show my dad how heavy the winds were by throwing my body around like a rag-doll. I guess I was 3 and a half-ish, since it was obviously cold weather. I have a vaguer memory of when my sister was born, I was not yet 3, and all I really remember is feeling jealous and wanting her to go away. I have a whole set of memories from that apartment in Brooklyn, but we lived there from 3-5, so I can’t really pinpoint the age, they may have been from later. I did NOT know my phone number until we moved to VA at 5. I’m trying to drill B on our home address, but he hasn’t gotten those 4 digits yet, so we definitely cannot do phone #.

  2. Aryanhwy Says:

    a kindly elderly dentist and his kindly elderly wife; she told me that she had saved a caramel apple just for me. (Can you believe there was a time when people made treats themselves?)

    Can you believe there was a time when dentists approved of caramel apples??

    My earliest memory is extremely vivid; so vivid that I thought for years it happened when I was 4 or 5, but then I found out that I was closer to 2. I was taking a bath; my mom came in, swooped me up, wrapped me in a towel, and hurried downstairs and outside — to point out to me a tornado that had touched down only about a mile from where we lived (and was going parallel to us so we were completely safe, no reason to head to the basement, etc.). We have a photograph of the tornado which is why I know the date of when this happened, and I know it’s a real memory of mine because I recounted it once to my mom and she didn’t remember the details though she remembered the occasion (which means that it wasn’t one of those stories-always-told-that-become-‘memories’).

  3. clumsykisses Says:

    It’s a sad one – my mum had breast cancer when I was small, and my first memory is of my dad and uncle coming to pick me up from being away with my grandad because my mum was in hospital.

  4. strongblonde Says:

    i remember lots of things from when i was 4-5 yrs old….i’m really trying to think of anything that is earlier than that. i’m sure some things are blending together, too. i remember traveling to chicago many times, but i went every summer since i was a baby….so who knows what year is what. i remember the neighborhood (really: trailer park) that we lived in before i was five….but not sure how much of it is a real memory v. stimulated memory related to pictures, etc. one memory that i am sure of is going grocery shopping with my mom. i think i was younger than 4, because i was all alone with her (but maybe i wouldn’t remember my sister anyway??). anyway, we were grocery shopping and while she was checking out i collected some marbles that were on the floor. they were scattered from a bag that had opened. i thought those marbles were the coolest. i collected them up, put them in my hand and showed them to my mom on the way out the door. i can’t remember her exact words, but i remember dropping all of the marbles and running out the door. i felt awful. looking back, i hope no one slipped and fell on the marbles!! 🙂

  5. Mel Says:

    I just read something in a book that says the brain is literally structured for whatever reason to not retain memories from the first two years, hence why we can’t remember being born or being in utero.

    My first memory, probably around 3, is standing in my grandparent’s living room amongst all the adults, shaking a jar of chewable vitamins.

  6. Photogrl Says:

    I, too, can remember lots of memories from around the time I was 4 years old, but after really thinking about it, my oldest memory would have been when I was 3.

    We lived in a small ranch house at the time, and my parents had this large sheepdog named, Pixie. I remember chasing Pixie around the living room at Christmas time, wearing my Holly Hobbie nightgown. Why this memory sticks out, I have no idea.


  7. I have long been amazed by your memory. At least I remember that I have been for as long as I’ve known you.

    My earliest, I believe, is the day we brought my baby sister home from the hospital. I have a memory of her being wrapped in the pink quilt that my grandmother had stitched for me.

    My mom assures me that this didn’t happen, though. She says to prepare me for no longer being the “only,” they had new stuff for my sister and got me my own baby with blanket and other accoutrements. I believe her. My memory probably tells more about my emotions than actual happenings.

    Though (like many big sisters) I wasn’t happy at the time, after the first month-ish, I have been super-grateful for my sister. And the one that came next.

  8. Elana Kahn Says:

    Trust me. You don’t want to know what my earliest memories are because they involve me having my diaper changed and being potty trained…not lovely stuff. My earliest non-poopfilled memory is a sad one. I was in preschool and had gotten so absorbed in playing one day that even though my father said goodbye to me when he dropped me off I didn’t realize it at the time. When it finally clicked that he “hadn’t” said goodbye I freaked out. I cried and screamed and ran into the hallway searching for him. That’s all I remember.

  9. Elana Kahn Says:

    Oooh! I also remember hitting my head on a windowsill at Ponderosa when I was like 3. I still have a small dent in my head from that.

  10. luna Says:

    one of my earliest memories is from my 3rd birthday party.

    we talk a lot though about how sometimes it’s hard to know whether those early memories are etched in our minds from the experience, or from the photos. now, with so many more moments of our kids captured in images and video, it may even be more difficult to determine where the “memory” comes from.

    my 3yo has an outrageous memory. her birth mom did too, apparently, though I never believed anyone could remember things from under age 2, yet she does. apparently there’s something in the genes, too. her great grandpa was hand picked as a code guy in the war, given secret missions that could not be written down.

  11. Mina Says:

    My earliest memory is of me “performing” for family friends and running out of poems and songs. And the point where I realised I had nothing more and HAD to start improvising is ever so vivid. I mean, the public demanded it, clearly. And over time my improvisations got wilder and wilder and that was the most entertaining part of the “show” and I would hurry through the memorised repertoire just to get to the part where I would monkey around to the sound of people laughing and clapping. I think I was around 3. Later I moved to acting out stories. It was a one-girl-show. Later, in adolescence, people would remind me of all this and I would get annoyed, because by then I so did not want to be in the spotlight anymore. Now I get to act again for my boys. So far, my public demands more every time. 🙂

  12. Cat Says:

    My earliest memory is of seeing The Empire Strikes Back in the movie theater. I was three at the time and we were visiting my grandparents in another town. I clearly remember peering through the backs of the seats in the row ahead of us at Luke hanging from the roof of the ice cave. It wasn’t until I was in high school and going to the theater for the first time since we moved to that same town permanently that I remembered the outside of the theater. It came back to me as I was walking across the parking lot that I had been there before.

  13. St. Elsewhere Says:

    I have flashes of memories. One of my earliest is of climbing a steep set of stairs, and that I was scared of the crows that used to sit on the sill, so I would keep an eye on them, and climb the uncomfortable stairs. That is a memory from when I was slightly younger than 2 years old

  14. loribeth Says:

    I have a few memories going back to when I was 2ish. I remember playing with a toy telephone & “talking” to my grandma, and I remember the neighbour’s daughter teaching me to sing “Frere Jacques.”

  15. Ernessa Says:

    My earliest memory was walking at this place called Grant’s farm with my mother. When I asked her about it she said I was about 3. But I also vaguely remember the apartment we lived in before we moved into our first house. I strangely don’t remember much of anything I said until I grew old enough to have a sense of sticking my foot in my mouth.


  16. My first memory is of being picked up by a German woman (well, I don’t know if I realized she was German, my dad told me afterward, but I probably realized she didn’t speak the same language) on the beach in Holland when I was two. I had strayed from where my parents were to join my sister playing a bit further away, but then my sister came back to my dad but without me… I don’t remember anything of feeling lost or something, just the fact that this woman picked me up and brought me to the rescue station, where she arrived at the same time as my dad. If I talk about this my dad still starts sweating. My mom was never worried because she didn’t notice I was gone and when my dad came back he had already found me… That’s the only memory from that early on, the earliest after that are from when I’m almost four…


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