I was talking with my sister-in-law yesterday, and we got round to talking about children’s memories. There’s 4 kids in the family, the oldest being 6, and we were saying how probably only now will she start to really remember her life for the rest of her life. It sort of flies in the face of the very name of this blog really, but it’s true to say that memories of when you’re under 5 pretty much fly out the window in later life except for the odd snapshot.
I only have a very few memories of being that young. One I’ve already mentioned in my welcome post on the homepage – the poster at my nursery. And the only other really clear memory I have is being in my buggy, and it was raining so mum had put the see through plastic sheet thing over me, and I can remember the blobs of rain on this plastic, and sort of poking them from within my protective shell, and being really amused by that. I mean what an odd memory to hold! But for some reason it’s stuck with me. Christmas’s, birthdays, they could have all been awful as far as I’m aware because I have absolutely no recollection whatsoever of them.
And there’s the interesting thing. Parents will bend over backwards, frontwards, sidewards, upwards and downwards to make sure that their children have the best christmas/birthday EVER, and get whatever they want, but in the long run they won’t remember them. To quote my little niece at Christmas 09 – “this is the best Christmas ever,” which was such a sweet thing to say, but actually quite cruelly ironic and a little sad that already she’s forgotten it. That’s not to say that all children have some kind of amnesia on their 5th birthday, they will hold on to some things, but over time it all just sort of fades and disappears. All those toys you couldn’t live without, the first time you paddle in the sea, the first time you eat birthday cake, all washed away like a message in the sand.
I suppose an argument could then be made “well why bother?” If they won’t remember, why bother making things special until they’re a bit older? I agree a TINY bit with this, just over things like really amazing holidays. My parents took me to New Zealand when I was 8 and even those memories are a little hazy. I wish they’d held on to the money and taken me when I was 14/15 and could appreciate it more. But on the whole, of course you should still make things as special as possible for them. Whether or not they’ll physically remember it, it’s there in their being, in their minds. They’ll have appreciated and learnt and grown from it. And it will make them happy. And if you can make someone happy, anyone happy, even if they’ve forgotten it the next month (and this is true of adults too, just as much,) then it’s worth doing. There’s far too much misery in the world, and it seems to exist without creation. If you can create some happiness for someone, then that’s amazing. And there’s a very good chance you’ll never forget it, even if they might.