Reminiscing

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“Mommy, tell me another story about when you were little!”

My kids have taken a sudden interest in stories about me. We have a 30 minute drive to and from school together and the whole time, it is “Tell me another!”

I should be flattered that they care, that they find me interesting. But arrrrrggghhh!

As I wrack my brain for the next vignette I have realized that there is so much of my childhood that I have forgotten.

The happy things? Gone. The infuriating, hurtful, painful things? Those remain. Why? It can’t be that I was just never happy. I remember the feeling of happy. I just don’t remember why.

What is your very first memory?

Mine is of visiting my aunt in San Diego and feeling the need to freak out when she started coming after my hair with the curling iron. (She said to hold still or it would burn me!) I think I was three.

Is your first memory of something happy or sad/scary?

I am super curious about this, so please, please comment!

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96 thoughts on “Reminiscing

  1. My first memory is actually of a dream; my house was on fire and I was flying out of it. The next memory would’ve been of trying to coax my younger sister down a laundry chute, because I was thoughtful like that. :/

    That same sister remembers everything in so much detail. Like you, that’s not my experience. I only remember most things if there’s some kind of related trigger; other than that, like that Maya Angelou quote, it’s the feelings I remember.

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  2. My parents had the front door open and their coats on. They were going out to a party. I was laying face down on my grandmother’s knee. As the door closed I threw up on my grandmother. I was quite young. Crazy memory.

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  3. Oh, that is soooo funny. All this time I thought you were a man! The ol’ unconscious chauvinism even in a woman (me) because you are a doctor?? Or maybe just assuming Victo is a man’s name?

    I’m sorry your kids are driving you crazy. That’s what kids do, right? I never had them so I’m not completely sure.

    My first memories are horrid. They are of my Dad coming home late at night and yelling at my mom. I was scared for most of my childhood. Scared of drunk, volatile men. (There were so many in my family that I was positive I would never get married.) In some ways I’m kinda f&%$ed up because of it but I’ve worked very, very hard on myself. I finally did marry Mr. Right when I was 40 which is why I didn’t have kids. Too old. I’d have teenagers now. Yuck.

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  4. I have two memories at the same age, almost 2 years old. One is in a swing between the living room and the kitchen, hanging from the ceiling. My parents would give me a push from time to time. The other is when I accidently broke an ornament of a clown next to vertical cones for holding cigarettes that was on a table in the living room.On happy memory, one sad one.

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  5. I have vague rather than specific memories, and some of those might be informed by photographs and my parents’ recounting of things. I remember being a Brownie, for instance, but very few specifics about my many times at Brownie camp except that one time I got the gift for the “oldest Brownie” because my best friend (six months older) wasn’t there that time.
    My earliest memory is having an argument with the neighbours’ kids in my front yard. I think we were debating death. I think I was three or four.
    I think my happy memories and my unhappy ones are about proportional; I had a pretty decent childhood, and of course the unpleasant lessons are the ones that teach us the most, the ones that help us survive, so I think there’s an evolutionary reason why we remember those longer.

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  6. I recently blogged about my first full memory, and that was me in my crib taking apart my teddy bear’s music box and my dad coming in. I’d put that under “good” memory.

    However, after that the next memories are vague, as you mention. The vast majority are not good. My father was an alcoholic and considering my mother was probably a malignant narcissist I’d probably have been a drunk too if I were him. We moved a lot when I was in high school. For every good memory I can manage to scrounge up there are 20 bad ones. I’m glad I don’t have kids because I don’t know what I’d tell them.

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  7. One of my earliest memories was when I was 3 or 4 and playing outside in the early spring. My older brothers were in school, and I recall making frozen mud pies for them. I was quite upset when they returned home and refused to actually partake of the mud pies!

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  8. My first memory is of my parents, drunk, sitting at the kitchen table in tiny shitty apartment, fighting over the last beer, and then my mom getting up and vomiting into the sink. I wrote an essay about it. I’ll post it one of these days. I was four.

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  9. My mother’s death at age eight stands out as most memorable, but there are so many wonderful memories I had even before then. The sound of her voice reading us bedtime stories, for one. After she was gone, my dad bought a boat and we have fond memories on the water and learning to ski.

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  10. Oh yeah, my earliest memory had to be at age two when we lived in an upstairs duplex. There was no screen on the window and I was letting the wind turn the pages in my little white New Testament Bible. I accidentally dropped it into the rain puddle below and that was the very first spanking I got. It was VERY memorable. I’ve had issues with religion ever since. Ha!

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  11. I have very few memories from before I was about 8 years old. Two I remember very strongly are about the house we lived in until I was 5 – I remember sitting in the doorway to my bedroom, looking down the hallway to the fireplace, and I remember sitting in the front window waiting for the steam trains to come up railway near the house (no idea why there were still steam trains – maybe some weekend tour?).

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  12. Sweet of you to ask. Thanks.

    In the pasture alone, laying in the grass entranced by the way sunlight and shadows painted gray branches silhouetted against the blue sky and feeling great joy.

    (I was a free-range baby on the family farm.)

    Alice

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  13. I was born in 1942 which I have come to believe was the last real age of innocence, and I had an almost idyllic childhood filled with extraordinary places and people. I still cherish every minute of it and would love to be able to walk back in time to those days even for just a minute to see it and feel it all again. Some time if you have time, you might read my post on October 14, 2013, #161, which will give you somewhat of a feel for what my memories of my childhood are like. Simply put, it was a most memorable and magical time and I will cherish it until I leave this world. Sadly it was a world I could not entirely recreate for my own child because it was one that didn’t then and doesn’t exist now any more. My grandchildren love to hear my stories too, some that they ask me to repeat over and over again. Hugs, N ❀

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  14. My mother stood over my crib and tucked in a clean sheet.
    “This is the last clean sheet,” she said with a laugh. “You can’t throw up on this one!”
    I looked at her and puked.

    I was under 3 years old. I think I had the measles (regular or German I don’t know which.)
    Today I would have been thrown into quarantine!

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  15. I have no first memories – age 0 – 9 do not exist, and large portions of the years that I fought in the Navy are just mist. It is a good question, though!

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  16. I have many memories and I don’t know which of them is the first. My mum and other people tell me that I did such and such as a child. Sometimes their words bring back recollections but I am not always certain whether these are genuine memoris or whether I think I recollect events simply because they have been implanted in my mind by the words of others. Do my ramblings make sense?! I do remember walking through woods with my grandfather collecting acorns and conkers which is a very happy memory.

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  17. I had four sisters and one brother, and parents that loved us. However we were very poor, although I didn’t know that until I was older. I have many memories most of them good. Nothing bad, just scary. My very first memory is my sister and I under the small table in our room because the sirens were going off and I remember thinking the bombs might be coming. I was about two, I was born in 1943. Sorry to read so many of you had such bad beginnings. I guess being poor wasn’t so bad after all. :o)

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  18. I have a (phantom?) memory of my mother slapping me in the face while holding me in front of her. I was lying in my cradle. This is impossible, because holding a baby up with one hand while slapping it with the other is impossible. My mother though says she shook me when I was about two weeks because I was crying constantly (due to ingestine problems). It is possible I invented this memory after she told me about the event… πŸ˜‰

    Another memory, which in my opinion is authentic, dates from when I was nine months; my mother was lying on bed with a flue, and I was crawling around. When I approached her bed, she encouraged me to fetch a storybook so she could read it to me. Maybe she was trying to distract me. Being nine month of age, I fetched the correct book. I remember this very clearly, but it could a phantom memory too of course.

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      • I think she is accurate about the shaking-story. Maybe I perceived it like a slap in the face. She told me my head was shaking when she shook me… Odd, though, that I somewhere along the line filled in differently πŸ™‚ Probably my frame of reference indeed…

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  19. My earliest memory is sad – dad choking me when I was about 3. Jeesh. Next one after that is good though, sitting on the stool in my grandma’s kitchen watching her bake a cake and getting to lick the beaters πŸ™‚

    It’s funny that your kids want the good stuff–my little man wants my husband and I to tell him about the times we got in trouble. Over and over and over. Hubby was a wild child, so he has a lot to tell, but I was always quiet and don’t have much interesting to say.

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  20. My first memory is a sad one. I remember my mother holding my baby brother, me clinging to her leg, screaming and crying, because she was no longer paying me any attention. I was 1 year old. How is it possible I can remember back that far? I don’t know. Then there is nothing for a long time. I have too many unhappy memories which want to be first and it is with great effort that I seach for happy ones. Now I come from a very dysfunctional, abusive home as a child, so this is why my memories are so sad. Yet I really do have FUN memories too. But when all is said and done, most of my childhood is a blank. How sad. Love, Amy

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  21. Now that I have started writing I have wanted to go back and recall childhood memories. But I find I have lost parts of them. I have thought I wish I had kept a diary so I would have some good material to write about. And I have thought I wish I had asked my parents and grandparents more questions about their lives because now they are all gone and no one knows the answers. I think it is good to tell your kids your memories. I know what you mean about the bad ones though because I too have unhappy memories. I think I always dreamed of the perfect happy family. Did not have it. One of my earliest memories is of my mother singing ” Blue Skies” to me and her voice sounded sad and I picked up on a feeling of sadness.

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    • I wish I had learned more from my father before his memory started to go (might have helped me understand him more) so you are right about the importance of passing down history to kids. I had not really thought about that angle, truthfully.

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  22. My first clear memories are of my great aunt Josephine who we lived with at the home of my mom’s mother in Washington DC when I was 4. Aunt Jo had Parkinson’s disease when they apparently didn’t have medication for it, because she shook all the time and was hard to understand. But that didn’t stop her from reading to me from the Bible every afternoon for 20 minutes. I remember sitting at the kitchen table trying to listen, bored silly. There is one other memory which stands out when Aunt Jo asked me to pull some dead skin off her arm for her. I was very hesitant, thinking it would hurt her, but eventually she got me to pull a little skin off for her. It was really weird.

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  23. I’m late. Mine was putting a puzzle together on the floor with my dad. I was 2. It was an orange and a sun and two other shapes. The sun had a notch in it and I could never get it to fit right and he always had to help me.

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  24. I was in the 3-5 year old range. There are memories of our corner rental house in Lincoln, Nebraska. Dad was an Air Force officer, this would’ve been 1958-1960. I can remember both running across our freshly cut lawn on a saturday evening as the sun set (the sense of the world being open and endless) and also the claustrophobic feeling of lying in a makeshift vaporizer tent (terrible sinus infections/allergies).

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  25. I think that my first memory is of a tiny turquoise light on the dashboard of my Daddy’s car. It was jumping in the dark as we were driving down the country road. It took me a couple of years to link it to the bulb on the dashboard: until then I believed it was a fairy or something. This light is a memory of my Dad.

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  26. I just picked up Steven King’s “On Writing” to ramble through again. He starts out the book with something that instantly reminded me of this post, so I thought I’d share. “I was stunned by Mary Karr’s memoir, The Liars’ Club, … she is a woman who remembers *everything* about her early years.” He continues, “I’m not that way. I lived an odd, herky-jerky childhood… Mary Karr presents her childhood in an almost unbroken panorama. Mine is a fogged-out landscape from which occasional memories appear like isolate trees…the kind that look as if they might like to grab and eat you.”

    Wonderfully said, no?

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  27. I think one of my earliest memories is when I was around three years old. We lived in Grand Junction, Colorado. Back then it was normal that neighbors would leave their doors open and it was expected and okay to enter someones home without much of a thought. The funny part is that when I arrived at my friends home no one was there. It didn’t stop me, I went on ahead inside and started playing waiting for him. The funny part was when the phone rang. At that age not knowing any better I answered it. Low and behold it was my mother. She asked me were our neighbors where to which I responded that I didn’t know. I remember her coming and getting me, later sharing with them what had happened. I think everyone had a good laugh. It’s just one of my many adventurous forays of my childhood. Even today we laugh about it.

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