I’m obsessed with memory. When does it start? What makes a memory? What impact does it have?
Recently, my brother told me that he read that the time people remember best is around 9-11 (can’t remember exact number he said – no pun intended). Anyway, according to what he read, there is more room for memory in the mind then – less clogged. In addition, it is around that age you are becoming more cognizant.
SJ is nine and will be ten in November. So, this is right in his wheelhouse. This is his time to soak up memories like a sponge. These are the memories he will look back upon as he ages.
In my logic – maybe you agree, maybe you don’t – that means it’s especially important that I do what I can to help him create good memories. I want him to look back fondly on his childhood. I want it to serve as fodder for stories, strength in times of uncertainty, joy inducing in times of challenge.
Yet, SJ seems to remember nothing. He does very well in school (Mrs. MMK and I are proud and thankful for that) and can tell you anything you want about Star Wars, Angry Bird Epic, I Survive book series and other such topics.
But the personal memories – forget it. Well, he does. He can’t even remember what we’re having for dinner even though he asked me in the morning.
Such memories are not particularly important though it’s annoying to have to answer the same questions repeatedly. Side note: He better return the favor if I lose my memory when I get old!
It’s the bigger memories – the ones that are special – that he also does not seem to remember that I wish he would. Last year, I shared about going into his room after I thought he was asleep in order to say happy birthday. When he was actually awake, we had a moment together that was special to me.
And I thought it was to him too. Newsflash – I asked him, and he did not completely recall. I think he didn’t recall at all but pretended to remember a little because he could see it would hurt my feelings. While I’m sad he doesn’t remember, I do appreciate his sensitivity.
After this realization regarding his poor memory, I got to thinking. If he isn’t going to remember the ‘big’ moments, what will he remember? Anything? What’s the point of trying to do special things if he is not going to remember them anyway?
Well, the fact is I don’t know what he will remember, and he doesn’t either. Memory is often fragmented. We remember moments and sound bites – we were driving somewhere and you did … we were at that park and then… I was playing one night and it was…
Even if we don’t remember all the details – and no one does – we remember snatches of time. We remember feelings that we were made to feel.
And SJ is no different.
I remember a conversation I had with someone about religion. They said something like, “I don’t know for sure there is a G-d. I believe it, but I don’t know. Let’s just say, for arguments sake that there is. If I’m doing right by what he commands, then at the end I’ll be rewarded. And if not, well, I’m enjoying my life doing as I’m doing anyway.”
Even if SJ’s memories of childhood are limited, I’m enjoying spending it with him. That moment when I said happy birthday to him has and will stay with me. It meant a lot to me. I’m enjoying his childhood, and that’s important too. That joy is surely getting passed on in some way – even if it’s not always clear.
So, if me creating moments for SJ is selfish – so, be it. Ultimately, he will have some memories. And some day when he is an adult, and we reminisce there will be some memories that we share. As for those other memories, we’ll share them too and fill in each other’s memory.
I have a really terrible memory like SJ, and I’ll tell you one little blessing about the whole thing– I also don’t remember a lot of the really hard or awful times. The past just blurs into one general blob, and for the most part it’s good. I have some friends who still suffer the anguish of past events in clear, living detail.
Those of us with bad memories can just let stuff go a lot easier. Although it is really annoying when we never know what’s for dinner.
That’s an interesting point. The ability to forget is important too.
I’m constantly amazed at what my daughter remembers from a few years ago…and by what she is capable of forgetting from a few minutes ago
That’s a funny contradiction, and I understand exactly what you mean.
I don’t have a lot of memories – I can’t tell you a single teachers name, I can only tell you names of old pets because there are some that my family talks about a lot! And there are times that I have to stop and wonder if I remember that or if I remember seeing a picture of that!
But of course you should give him a childhood filled with memories – that’s what parents are supposed to do in my opinion – raise them to be able to take care of themselves and be a contributing member of society, and making sure they enjoy their childhood with lots of memories to look back upon! 🙂
I agree with you that childhood filled with memories is what a parent should give.
I hope that one day they will actually remember them, and it will bring joy.
My kids remember stuff SO much better than my husband and I do. I figured it was because they had fewer memories in general so it was easier to “find stuff in there.” It’s kind of a hokey theory, but it makes me feel better. The stuff they remember amazes me.
I wonder if they will remember it long term.
You see your theory has some merit.
It is not selfish to create memories for you guys, at least not in any sort of bad way.
Memories are a funny thing and you never know when fragments of one are going to come floating to the surface, sometimes smells or sounds trigger it.
As long as you are enjoying yourselves while you go along, well keep on keeping on.
It’s the not knowing that intrigues me. I wonder what they will recall.
As you say, as long as we enjoy ourselves along the way…