A post in one of the LinkedIn groups I’m in asked what were people’s earliest memories. Surprisingly, quite a few people had toddler (pre-language) memories, and some even baby memories! Some were traumatic, as to be expected, such as discovering dogs for the first time (big dog face suddenly appears over the stroller) or of a mother leaving her with a babysitter for the first time, but others were not. Someone remembered feeling warm sun shining on her in the stroller and her mother laughing. My dad has very early memories—of hearing a train go by as he crawled to the living room where his dad and his uncles were chatting, of sitting in a crib in a basement when he was about one year old, of sitting in a wagon and watching a wooly caterpillar climb a wall. These are what writer Lisa Dale Norton calls “shimmering images.”
I have no memories from before kindergarten, only old black & white photos that make me think I remember. Makes me wonder—was my life that boring? Why don’t I remember moving to a new house or a baby sister coming home, or my dad reading My Dolly and Me over and over and over? Why don’t I remember being in a hospital isolation ward away from my parents for two weeks when I was two years old? That one might explain a few things…
Compared to my mother, I have so few early childhood memories. She had a sweet memory of her big sister:
“When I was about three years old, my mother scolded me and I cried and cried. Ine picked me up and carried me on her back to the steps of a nearby ice warehouse. She was singing a Japanese fairy tale song about angels in the sky. I fell asleep on her back.”
What are your earliest memories?
For Mothers Day I’m linking to an old article I wrote, Capturing the Memories, for Asiance magazine. My mother may be gone from this earth, but she left us her earthly treasures in her memoir, Cherry Blossoms in Twilight. I love you, Mom.
Interesting topic! It is hard to sort through which memories are “remembered” from stories family members told and those recalled from experience. Here are some I “see” from a different perspective, when I was much shorter and looking up at the world. Preschool age — gripping our wire fence and waiting next to the white wagon-wheel gate with my collie/shepherd-mix dog for my sister to come home from school. I loved playing in the dirt around a huge oak tree in the back yard, and often used a broken swing to saddle the teeter-totter (my “horse”). Around age three — watching my sister ride her blue metal car off the back porch down some very steep wooden stairs. I bet she remembers that one better than I do!
Very good, TW! You’ve definitely got shimmering images from way back. I like the one of waiting for your sister to come home. I have pretend horses memories, too (by second grade), and think most little girls must have those!
I think you’re right — horses are magical.
What a sweet thing to do in remembering your mom so lovingly… and I’m sorry memories from before kindergarten escapes you.
A couple if early memories… I was being carried (“ombu”) by my grandmother on her back as she reached to open a gate at our house in Tokyo. I must have been three. I also remember loving “Glico” caramel (pronounced GU-RI-KO) that my grandmother would buy.
You have two very sweet early memories!