Sunday, September 19, 2010


It occurred to me, when Ben turned three years old that he will remember this year, in those to come.

I have had the experience through much of my childhood of living in a different home every year or two so I know just when certain things took place. I remember living in Newfoundland and so I know I remember my third year. I wonder if Ben will remember today? We didn't do anything extraordinary but it is funny what the brain flags as important and files under "long term" storage. Most of my early memories are very random.

I remember at three walking down the street, hand in hand with my mother. Conscious of my hand in hers. I was asking her the difference between a park and a playground. She smiled and looked at the sky. I wondered if she could see the answer there.

I remember at four (living in a new home by now of course...) asking my My mother to play "Mrs." with me.
She asked me how to play that and I told her "your a Mrs. and I am a Mrs." So then she called me "Mrs " all morning and I was pleased.

I remember at five (new house...) watching as my neighbor, a few years older, stuck a living frog over a barbwire fence and closed her eyes as she pushed down hard enough for the barb to pierce through it. I didn't know a lot about death, but I saw the life leave its eyes. She looked at me and I turned around and went home. I remember an anger in me not frequently replicated in my budding activist heart, I never again would be a silent bystander.

I remember at six (same house, new school) the skin eating infection I got that wouldn't go away. There was little skin left on my arm and required frequent trips to the doctor. These visits included the sticky gauze bandage to be removed, the thick ointment washed off and my raw skin brushed clean until it bled. I remember being embarrassed to cry in front of the Doctor. On this particular occasion my mother ran into a friend in the parking lot and as she was distracted in conversation I balanced along the garden edge. I slipped and fell into the bad arm catching me. We had to go up and repeat the process so the shards of gravel could be removed. I didn't care about crying then.

I remember at seven (new house, new school) getting sent out in the hall of my second grade class for talking when it was the girl next to me (granted it was usually me).  My intense seven year old sense of fair was rightfully raging and I refused to talk to the teacher when she came out in the hall to get me. I wouldn't look at her when she lost her patience and when she began to get angry I burst into sobs....which of course embarrassed me more and I cried harder.
She left and came back with the principal who took me to her office and gave me gummy worms. She asked me if my parents were divorced. I didn't know what that meant so I just nodded my head.
My Dad walked down to meet me after school which had never happened before. He asked me how my day was and I said it was fine. I asked him if he and my mom were divorced. "No", he said. "Oh. Well the principal thinks you are".

I remember at eight (same house, different school) remembering half way to school about "show and share". A bird caught my attention then and let me get close enough to it to pick it up. I quickly put it in my school bag and zipped it up. Hours later when the teacher asked who had something to share, I proudly shot up my hand. When I brought my bag up to the front of the room and confidently pulled out the most interesting show and share item to date. All I heard was the piercing shriek of the teacher. She grabbed my arm and led me out into the hallway. She told me to stand still as she brought both the janitor and principal down. The janitor took my roadkill and the principal took me. She didn't give me gummy worms.

I remember at nine (new school, new house...of course) I had two sets of twins as best friends. I, not surprisingly I suppose made up a sister of my own...a twin, obviously. Her name was Allison and she stayed at our old school I claimed. I surprised myself at times how easily lies flowed out of my mouth where she was concerned but the pressure became too much with the anticipation of how I would explain my solo birthday party. There was only one way to end this. Allison, tragically. died. My limited experience with death thus far was a series of flushed fish (and a hamster...) and so that is the demise I thought best suited for her. A drowning. I told them quickly, hoping that it would go over easily and we could move on like she hadn't existed at all. Unfortunately both sets of legitimate twins told their parents what happened and promptly they came over to see my surely grief stricken parents. I remember when Kim and Casey showed up at my house with their Mother, I asked why they were there and they told me their Mother wanted to stop by to see my Mom. "Why?" I asked.
"You know, because of...your sister" they looked at me sadly.
Well crap.

My parents never spoke to me about it. I waited but it didn't come, so by the time I got to my next school the stories flowed only as lies with no consequences can. I knew if I got caught in such a web I would move away soon anyhow. By the time I was ten I had traveled the world, had seven sisters, lived on a farm with ponies, my dad bought Marineland....and I received my own pet seal. And and a whale. Of course. I had an allowance of $1000 a week and had a movie theater in my basement. I was allowed to stay up all night and only ate ice cream sandwiches for breakfast. Oddly, I was believed.

I don't remember all my birthday parties or (actual) trips we took but I remember coloring on the living room floor with my brother while the rain hit hard on the window. I remember watching my mom chase my dad around the house with a dish cloth as they laughed. I remember looking out the window as we drove across two provinces to the ocean and my grandparents. I remember playing in the same playhouse my mother did with my cousins. I remember walking two feet behind my mother in a grocery store because she was wearing boots I deemed too ugly to be near me. I remember feeling horribly guilty to see the look on her face when she realized and I was too stubborn and prideful to apologize and take her hand like I wanted to. I remember favorite outfits but don't recall the shopping trip they came from, I don't remember moving houses but I remember my first memories of living there, often in a different season than we arrived. I remember getting chip wagon fries with my friends and breaching the trust that was given me when I asked for ketchup on the bottom so my sugar police mother wouldn't see it on the top. I remember riding my bike in the rain with my dad and eating soup that had bugs in it from being in the cupboard too long...I remember the decision to keep eating it, because I was kind of a weird kid.  I remember some of the big, most of the little.

Memories are it seems, mostly in the details.

I wonder what Ben will remember...

1 comment:

Christine said...

excellent post Jenn!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...