When do memories start?

Memory is a funny thing.

It was occuring to me in the car this morning that Ricky (who is four) is probably now getting to the age where he’ll have concrete memories about his day to day life. I mean the kind of memories that he’ll still have when he’s my age.

My earliest memory dates back to the first house I lived in, so I must have been under two, as we moved around then. I remember being on the driveway, and falling over and hurting myself. My Mum was watching out of the window, and she came running. That’s all I remember!

I fell into the pond at that house when I was very little as well and nearly drowned. My Mum was putting up some washing on the line and didn’t hear a splash. This was, of course, back in the days when child safety wasn’t something everyone obsessed over like we do now (not that my Mum didn’t take great care of us- she did- it was an unfortunate accident)! Who had safety locks on everything back then?! Anyhow, I have a memory of that- but I am very unsure that it’s a real memory, it’s more of an image. I wonder if it’s genuine or something that my imagination has created because it has been mentioned over the years and my brain kind of thinks I ought to remember?

I think my first solid memories date to when I was around four. I have a memory of coming down the stairs in the house I grew up in, and seeing myself in a mirror which was on the turn of the stairs. I remember (with the lack of vanity that a child possesses) thinking how cool I looked, and then I thought, “In six years time, I’ll be TEN!!!”

Back then, being ten was a very big deal. It seemed like some kind of long term goal, to be worked towards and yearned for. I recall that, when we were children, we painstakingly worked out that we’d be in our twenties when the Millenium came, and that seemed impossibly old! 😀

Dropping Ricky to nursery school, I thought back to my own memories of nursery, which I attended in Stranmillis. It actually surprised me how much I was able to remember.

I clearly remember an argument between me and my then best friend, Alexandra (Kingsbury, for old Methodonians!! 😀 ) involving some playdough. I remember making butter in a churn by all of us skimming the cream off the tops of our milk bottles every day- we took it in turns to shake the churn until after what seemed like 100 years, one day there was butter. I remember us all lying down on mats for our naps. I remember that they served up savoury mince on a Tuesday- and in my memory it tastes just like the innards of a Linda McCartney vegetarian mince pie!! 😀 I remember that they had three tricycles in the playground, and you had to queue up behind an egg timer to ride one of them. One of them was called The Bunny Bike, and the queue for it was always the longest. I remember the class going for a walk by the River Lagan which was nearby, and there being a poor drowned Golden Retriever on the shore, the image of which is still crystal clear in my mind. I remember learning to tie my shoelaces.

The reason I find this so remarkable is that, when I pick Ricky up in the evening, I always ask him how his day was (he always answers “fine”) and then I ask him what he did.

He never has the faintest idea. 🙂


9 Responses to “When do memories start?”

  1. April 23, 2009 at 1:40 pm

    I have virtually no memories before about 12. My earliest is when I was 4, remembering how pleased I was to be wearing a new red velvet dress, but it’s mostly just feelings, impressions, images from that time until I was in middle school. I remember pretty much zero complete incidents.

    That’s really interesting. I am sure everyone’s brains are different. I have a degree in psychology, maybe that’s why this kind of stuff makes me think! 🙂

  2. April 23, 2009 at 1:52 pm

    Ricky sounds like some of the adult boys I know! 😀

    I remember lots of things, but it’s hard for me to pinpoint how old I really was. I know I was small. Then, like you said, some of the stories I’m not sure if I remember them or my if my Mom had told the stories so vividly while I was growing up that I’ve taken those images as my own. I think in one of my entries I told an old story and mentioned that the memories weren’t all mine. When I did that entry I remember (heh) wondering if I actually remembered that or if it was what I had been told.

    Most of my true toddler memories involve me injuring myself somehow!

    There’s definitely an element of “did that even really happen” about some of my memories! For example, I seem to remember that we as a family used to have picnics on a dry river bed somewhere near the Mourne mountains in Co. Down, but I don’t know if I’ve made it up. I keep meaning to ask my Dad (he reads, but never comments- maybe this will flush him out, or he’ll tell me later!! 😀 )

  3. April 23, 2009 at 2:51 pm

    I have definite, concrete memories of kindergarten when I was five, and a few from preschool when I was four. I have a few more fuzzy memories that I think are slightly earlier but they’re hard to pinpoint – the kindergarten/preschool memories are definitely dated because of the people in the memories with me.

    That sounds a lot like me. 🙂 It’s interesting me how different everyone’s responses are so far! 🙂

  4. April 23, 2009 at 7:06 pm

    I have various bits and pieces of memories starting at about five…some specific days and incidents, but nothing of ordinary situations. Sometimes, events spark these memories, but it is really tough to put a handle on…

    It’s amazing how even a smell, or a song, can instantly transport me back to a long forgotten memory. It’s the same kind of thing, isn’t it?

  5. April 24, 2009 at 11:34 am

    I don’t really have any memories of my childhood. I blocked most of them out, it wasn’t a very happy one. The ones I do have a pretty sad and I wouldn’t want to spoil your nice post!

    Sorry, Joey, I didn’t mean to make you feel bad. 😦 Look at it this way though- your kids are going to have lovely memories of THEIR childhoods. 🙂

  6. 6 Kim
    April 24, 2009 at 3:12 pm

    My first memories come from the first house I lived in and there are quite a few of them, both before and right after my sister was born. I’m three years older than she is, so I think I’d pinpoint my age at being around two. I wish more parents realized how much their young babies soak up and retain!

    I can remember my youngest brother being born- I was three- I remember going to the hospital to visit. 🙂 It’s amazing what little kids can absorb!

  7. 7 layla2376
    April 25, 2009 at 9:07 am

    My earliest memory is from when I was about 2 1/2, we were going to the Safari Park in Portrush and I was the worst traveller, I was always dreadfully car sick. I remember stopping at a little shop while my Dad got plastic bags. Not a very nice memory but its my first…strangely I have no recollection of going to the Safari Park although a return trip as an adult might have explained why….grim!!!
    Soph has a fab memory, we get the same response usually about nursery activities but little things she will mention day to day amaze me, she remembers everything ! Old Stu can remember nothing bless him, I think his first memory was from when he was about 9.

    That safari park was a total disgrace and I am very glad it’s been shut down now!! Ricky CAN remember weird random things which surprise us. It always seems strange to me though that my kids lead this whole other life during week days and I really know nothing much about it. I hate that!

  8. 8 Skry
    April 27, 2009 at 3:43 am

    I remember being in nursery school in Orangefield. I had two best friends called Mark and Gordon and I remember that the main “toy” in the class was a log that people could havver nails into. It was a big deal if you could hammer the nails in back to front (i.e. flat head-side down so the spike pointed out). Wonder how many accidents that thing caused?!? You’d never find that in a nursery school now…

    Phil had to go to Clonduff nursery school and I remember being in the car to collect him, as well as my dad being taken/collected from building classes he was taking in the evening. In fact now that I’m thinking about it I’m getting loads of memories back that I hadn’t thought of in years!

    Jeez Suzy, you better watch what you say and do from now on 😛 If I can remember this kind of stuff from pre-school days then most people can!

    That was exactly the same feeling that I had when I started to look back!! Scary!

  9. August 2, 2010 at 4:46 pm

    WOW, great post.:) My first memory starts back when I was one I think, I have a flash memory of me standing up in the crib and looking at someone.


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