How far back can you remember?

31 day Blog Challenge – day 4 – “earliest childhood memory”

Before I retired, I used to be

a Psychology lecturer, teaching 16-18 year olds, and adults. I used to love the ‘memory’ topic, and had great fun teaching the students all aspects of memory research, with lots of demonstrations and experiments. It was surprising how one’s earliest memories can vary – I would ask my students for their earliest memories, some could not remember anything at all until after they had started school at age 5, whereas I had one interesting student tell me that he could remember being born! He remembered very bright lights, and people dressed in green…. could this be true? Here is some interesting anecdotal evidence about remembering being born……

 

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Memories are strange things – we can never be sure if what we recall is an actual memory, how accurate it is, or whether we are just remembering what someone told us about the event. Most people can’t remember very much before they are three, although some will dispute this……

I’m sure I can remember when my brother was born, when I was two years old, I’ve seen photos of me with him when he came home from hospital, with my mum, but do I remember the actual event, or am I just remembering the photos?

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I was born in Malta, as my father was stationed there with the RAF, I obviously have no memory of the short time I was there. Before I was two, we moved back to the U.K. as my father was posted to Lancashire. I know that we eventually moved into an RAF house, but before this, we lived in a rented house in Lytham St Anne’s. My very first memory is of me, two years old, standing on a chair, looking out of the bay window, and seeing two people on horses coming down the road, and going past our house. That’s it. I don’t know if this is true, but I claim that is my earliest memory……

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This is the window from which I remember seeing the horses…..

I have vague flashes of memory from before I was 4, living in the RAF house after my brother was born. I remember having a plastic doll with ginger hair. I remember playing in our garden, and the neighbour next door had a pet tortoise. I remember being a bridesmaid for my auntie when I was three, and wearing a blue lace dress. I remember watching some children’s TV programmes – Andy Pandy, Bill and Ben, Rag, Tag and Bobtail. I also remember a glimpse of Princess Margaret’s wedding  on TV in the spring of 1960.

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When I was four we were posted to Singapore, and my memories are clearer. I can remember my first day at school there, moving to a new house, birthday parties, toys I played with, learning to ride a bike, the tremendous monsoon rain that fell, the Amah’s market with the smell of Chinese food everywhere. As I write this, more memories are flooding back!

What’s the earliest thing you can remember?

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16 thoughts on “How far back can you remember?

  1. Mine is falling off a roundabout aged 3 years. Usually people can remember things about their birth if it was traumatic – usually something to do with drowning in water. My daughter had the umbilical chord around her neck during birth and to this day can’t stand anything near her neck – though her earliest memory is burning her hand at the age of 3 and me reading about ants to her while she had her hand in cold water. The Trauma of Birth by psychoanalyst Otto Rank, is an interesting book written in 1924 and first published in English translation in 1929.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love seeing the pictures of when you were a young girl and love hearing stories people tell of when they were little. How different everything was back then, I could listen for days.
    I think I was 3 when I remember sitting in the back of the station wagon while we were traveling somewhere. No car seat needed then, just me and my Mrs. Beasley doll playing in the back.

    Liked by 1 person

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