Caution: Memories Forming
When my daughter was in her terrible twos and my son was a newborn I often stumbled around like a zombie, not showering for days on end and crying in anguish if dinner was burned. It wasn’t a pretty sight, but I took solace in knowing that it was probably something my kids wouldn’t remember. After all, my earliest memories are from around the time I hit four years old, so I figured it was relatively safe to be openly haggard and exhausted around my babies because they probably wouldn’t remember it.
I’m a lot more careful now. My daughter is four, and I know that every little thing I do can be a lasting memory for her. When I take a nap instead of helping her color I wonder if someday she’ll recount this to a therapist because she’ll have all these dramatic memories of me “ignoring” her.
For the record, I only do the nap thing when I’m sick. It’s not like I forgo time with her every day in order to catch some rest.
At any rate, I wonder at what age memories actually start to stick. I know there are some people out there who claim to vividly remember being born, but my guess is that these people might have some confused memories. Will my son – who is now two – be able to recall things that happen to him right now when he’s an adult? Will those memories get twisted around to form something else in his mind? I remember when I was young and my mom cried hysterically when John Lennon was shot. The memory never really made much sense to me until I grew up and got the full story: Amazingly talented musical icon, shot to death by a crazy guy. Now I can see why she cried, but back then I remember thinking, “So what? Some old guy died.” If I never got the full story it would remain an odd memory in my mind, and one that I wouldn’t fully understand.
I’m interested to see what childhood memories my kids bring up when they’re much older. For now, though, I’ll just work on filling their minds with happy, interesting memories.