I've been playing with Elena, who is at that stage where any attention is rewarded with chuckles, squeals and grins. I wonder what her first memories will be. Will they be happy ones?
I've read some interesting things that suggest that babies remember events from the womb, although sometimes subconsciously, up until around two years of age. I don't know that I believe it (and I do not have any prenatal memories that I am aware of), but it is interesting to think about. I think that they are affected by some of the mother's hormones, so it makes sense that they might be aware of moods or stress to some extent.
My earliest memories are all from around age two. I'm surprised at how many things I clearly remember, even though most things are just flashes, like a photo of a particular moment. I remember...
...coloring with my mom. I was frustrated because hers looked so much better than mine (if she had realized that, she probably would have started scribbling). She told me that her favorite color was blue. I don't remember my favorite then, but in first grade it was red-violet.
...going to kinder with Miriam and Fer. On the way, we always jumped off a little ledge. It was just above my knees (so what? Less than a foot high?) and it felt very daring.
...playing on the roof with my dog, and giving her a bath there. No wonder I've always loved heights!
...going over to Ivan's house to see his latest toys. They were always very cool, but I didn't always get to play with them, or at least not as much as I wanted.
...playing with my best friend, Gabi. We played in his back yard, in the church, on the merry-go-round with his abuela. I recall how scared I was when I heard about his foot getting caught in the spokes of the tricycle, and how disappointed I was that we couldn't play while it was healing.
...my third birthday. I got a cake with a merry-go-round, and a Lego set just like Gabi's! And the most special part was that his mom gave me permission to rub the soft, fuzzy leaves on her flowers (violets?). I loved to feel them!
...being told not to pick my nose. This made no sense to me. Why shouldn't I? Was it bad? No, not exactly, it was just something we should not do in front of other people (if it were Really Bad, it would still be wrong, even if no one could see you). So why was it sort of bad? Well, it was rude. How? Did it hurt people's feelings? Well, no, but it was yucky. How could it be yucky? It felt so satisfying! Besides, my boogers were pretty small, so other people didn't have to look at them.
...spilling a drink on a lacy white tablecloth when we were visiting. Was I going to get a spanking? No, because it was just an accident. This puzzled me, too. I didn't quite grasp the distinction. My kids are definitely capable of making choices, but I wonder at what age they would be able to really understand punishment as justice rather than an arbitrary result of our displeasure.
...being apprehensive about getting into and out of the boat at Xochimilco. The water was such a deep, murky green--would they be able to find me if I fell in?
...dancing during the worship service at church. Legs were flying everywhere! I don't remember the song, but I can clearly recall the joy and exuberance that filled the room. I'm glad my first memory of church is such a happy one.
...being totally fascinated by the lipstick worn by two of the ladies at church. One wore a perfect, bubble-gum pink; the other wore a brilliant tangerine. I wanted to be old enough to wear lipstick like that!
...eating at McDonald's with my parents. Their burgers were much more interesting than mine. They were bigger, too. Of course, mine came with a toy, and theirs didn't, but then again, I couldn't eat the toy. I remember my dad sharing his BigMac. From then on, I got to order off the adult menu.
There are so many more. Many are happy, some are unpleasant, some funny. Just everyday stuff. I hope that the normal, everyday memories I am creating for my kids will be warm and happy ones of being loved and learning to love others, too.