Monday, March 19, 2012

First Thought

I accept the fact that the human brain is an incredible device with a photographic memory, but I have my doubts when people claim they can recall their own births. I’m thinking about this because last night I had a peculiar dream. Actually, it wasn’t really a dream, it was a recollection of a situation that happened when I was six months old. But since I was asleep at the time I guess it technically qualifies as a dream.

I’m a baby in my crib, and it’s unbelievably hot. I’m sweating profusely and wearing only a diaper. Something other than the heat is bothering me. I’m too good natured to cry (Mom will later say that had I been colicky like my older brother we’d still have been a family of three because she’d have killed herself) so I just lay there and play with my toes. (This will be the last time I will be able to get them in my mouth.) Then the bad thing starts happening again.

It’s a hissing sound, one I’d grow up to associate with snakes, but there isn’t a snake in my bed, it’s the fitted sheet beneath me. It’s too small for my mattress, not that I know what sheet and mattress are. All I know is that if I move, the thing under me sticks to my back and the cloth at the corners of my crib pull away from the mattress and slither toward me. I don’t like it one bit.

I remember trying not to move but I’m a baby and babies aren’t good at staying still. Like I said it’s hot and sticky, and now this thing pinned around my middle is soaking with something that doesn’t smell too good. I’m not happy, not happy at all.

This is the dream/memory I relived in my sleep last night. Nothing dramatic, only I know it isn’t a dream. My dad and older brother shrugged it off when I discussed it with them a while back, both admitting it wasn’t anything worth mentioning. I talked to my mother about it recently. “I have a memory that goes back to when I was around six months old,” I said.

She laughed at me. “No you don’t. People can’t remember that far back. Whatever it is you think you remember, it’s just something someone told you, something you forgot and then remembered.”

“But this isn’t anything anyone would have bothered to tell me.” I described the dream to her. To my shock, she was silent for once. It didn’t last. “That is strange,” she finally admitted. “When you were six months old we lived briefly in a place called Airport Village near the old San Jose Airport. We were housed in these metal buildings from the war.”

“Quonset huts?”

“Yes, that’s what they were called. All metal, and my…my…my were they hot! I haven’t thought about living there in…in, I can’t remember the last time!”

“What about the sheets?”

“I washed them wrong and they shrank something awful. We didn’t have money to replace them. I tried to make do but couldn’t keep them on your crib. I haven’t thought about those sheets in years either. But I must have mentioned them. I just can’t remember.”

“Mom, do you think you did?”


“Then maybe this is my earliest memory.”

“Why is it always something about you? Has it occurred to you that maybe you’d be more successful if you focused less on yourself? Why don’t you write blogs about me?”

She doesn’t know it, but I do.

Can you remember being born? What is your oldest memory?


  1. I am laughing so hard I can barely type. What a funny family you have and your first memory is of course told from your side. Trying to be such a good kid already? So funny.

    Fortunately I do not remember being born. Ewwww.
    I do remember playing with black widow spiders, I had a stick in my hand, spider climbing up and down the stick. My mom says I was about one year old when she found me with the stick and the spiders. My first thought when she told me was "FOUND me? Did she leave me outside on purpose?"

  2. Wow.. that is interesting - particularly that it would come back to you in a dream.

    My earliest memory also takes place in a crib but I think I was older.. maybe closer to two. I seemed to have a clear awareness of what was being said around me. I was just put into fresh PJs and was given a bottle. As soon as I took the bottle, it immediately spilled all over my chest. I can still feel the sensation. It wasn't shocking or unpleasant but I remember my mother getting upset by it, and I was being pulled out of the crib so that she could change the sheets and my clothes.

    I remember thinking that I had done something wrong. I read my mother's annoyance with herself for not securing the bottle properly as something I had done. It was such a minor, unimportant incident but for whatever reason, it stayed with me for over 50 years and has helped me to realize how kids internalize how we react to things.

  3. I'm impressed that you can recall a memory from that young age,even in a dream. My memory is very sporadic. I have memories from around the age of 3 but just particular events. That is true all through my life. An event or two from most ages and total blanks as well. I can remember someone's name from 10 years ago but not remember who's house we had Christmas at last year. The part of my brain that controls memory has a defect, I guess.

  4. Most of us don't remember anything from before we had words with which to describe what was happening. My earliest memory is in my crib, but i was old enough to stand up in it.

    My Sweetie remembers something from 6 months, also. He and his brother were premies and blind, never expected to be able to see. He remembers seeing street lights for the first time after they regained their vision.

  5. I completely believe that people can remember back to their very beginnings. I myself can remember before my sister was born, and I am 15 months older than her. It's a neat feature of the brain, I think!

  6. I can remember back to about two -- being with my grandparents at the Elizabeth Rose Gardens in Hartford, Connecticut. I was wearing a light blue coat with little mother of pearl duck buttons -- which I liked very much. And a blue bonnet to match the coat. I felt, even then, very well-dressed. Many years later I discovered that I was very well-dressed, with my diaper sagging for all the world to see! :-)

  7. That is a great story. My sister can remember being around a year old. I think that it crazy because I remember pretty much nothing until around age 5 or 6. I even got a chance to visit the house that I lived in until that age and still couldn't remember. The brain is a remarkable thing, though. I guess mine is just too full of trivial crap to keep many memories in there.

  8. I really do like your mom. She reminds me of my grandmother. Snarky and funny at the same time.

    I can remember being in my crib at about one year old. My dad was covering me up because it was cold and he was wearing boxer shorts. I can vividly remember that.

    Have a terrific day. :)

  9. Sounds like a real baby memory, because you didn't have any framework to put the experience in. I remember when the world seemed to consist of great big feet and towering things above that occasionally took some notice of me.

  10. My first memory is later - maybe around 2 or so? I remember getting my baby brother out of his crib (he was 21 months younger than I was) - terrified my mom!

  11. My oldest memory is from somewhere between 2 and 3 years old. We had a furnace fire in our house, and I was taken to my aunt Eleanor's to spend the night. I was put in her bed. She was a very large woman, and I remember worrying that she would roll over and squash me!

  12. Recently, I read that many people have flashes of memories that go back to an extremely early age. I do not remember being born. However, I once told my mother that I remembered us going to visit a very old woman who was in bed. My dad was holding me. The old woman had colored glass objects next to her bed. My mom said, "That was Ottie (her aunt). Why, you couldn't have been more than two years old." I suspect that's my earliest memory.

    Janie Junebug

  13. I have vague memories of being in a crib in a hospital with some kind of material over it. From what my Mom has told me I had an episode where I quit breathing. I don't remember that part, just being in a strange bed with nurses checking on me. I was gosh a year or just under at that time. I found you through Artist's Play Room. Glad I came over to check out your blog!! Warmly, Tracy

  14. When I was 1 year old my parents moved to Springfield, Il for a year. (My dad somehow arranged a transfer back to TX after that. He HATED Illinios.) I remember at around 1 1/2 years old playing in a dark room in our house, and sledding down hills in a field across from where we lived. Years later my parents told me that the "dark room" was the basement (something we don't have in Texas), and the "field" we went sledding in was in fact a golf course, which was obviously not in use in the snowy wintertime.

    That was 60 years ago. Right now I can't find my cell phone case. :(


  15. Just think, your first memory is of being hot and short-sheeted. (Is that the right word? It sounds funny to say it.)It is what has made you the funny man that you are today!

  16. Yesterday is about as far back as I can go without making something up.

  17. The clearest was when I was two, almost three. It was an incident after my baby brother came home from the hospital.
    Wrote about it when I was an old college student about ten years ago.

    Your memory had to be real! Just too ordinary, you know. And your mom cracks me up!! :)

  18. When I was eight, I had a realistic dream of surgeons being over me trying to save me and I left my body and was watching them. I was a newborn in the dream. It felt so real and bothered me. Years later I found out that I was born allergic to my blood and had died at birth (I had a complete blood transfusion). Anyway, that was an odd feeling, but it could have just been a dream, too. I'll never know.

    What a great post. Your family sounds awesome!

  19. No, I most certainly can't remember being born, and thank God for that.

    I wrote my earliest memories - from around age two, so you beat hell out of me on this - so rather than recount the whole thing here, you can read about it at your leisure, if you wish.

  20. LOL! I don't write about my Mom ..YET. I'd like to, but by some horrible quirk of fate, it would be the only time she happened to visit my blog while on a visit to my brother's and she happened to be that will happen:) Don't get me wrong...she's 87 and a dear..but my early memories are not exactly full of love and hugs...most just disapproving looks and frowns, and "go outside and play!"

  21. I wrote about my earliest memory on my blog some time ago. Can't remember which post it was though. I can remember a slap that caused me to take a sharp intake of breath.. Just kidding, I think!

  22. That post I mentioned was titled: Be careful what you say in front of the baby.

  23. I just made my way to your blog after laughing out loud at your comment on La Tejana's blog today. This post is very fun! My dad also swears he has a very young "crib" memory. I remember very clearly playing with my brother when we both had chicken pox. Talking to my mom she says I wasn't quite two when I had chicken pox, so there you go! Have a great day!

  24. I don't know if you just remember what someone told you or saw a picture that made you remember..or really remembered your crib ...I think our minds are untapped of many memories, ideas and knowledge. My college age daughter just told me last week that people who dream are smart.

  25. that is quite amazing! Jim is always telling me his thoughts as a very young child, how he was contemplating the banking system and stuff like that--at the same age I was playing in cow pies with a stick! We are very aware but if it is pre-verbal I think it's more difficult to identify the memory...

  26. I really don't have memories until 4 or 5, but my mom says when my grandfather died I told her it was ok, he told me last night that he'd take care of the twins until you got there. (mom had twins one year after me, they were born at only 5 months 2 weeks and didn't survive more than a few hours). Strange thing for a very young child to say. Hmmm.
    Thanks for stopping by and if I didn't tell you I LOVE the peas painting, just hilarious. You captured the personality of peas. And my studio better stay clean as it;s so small if it doesn't I can't use it at all.
    Jenn of

  27. I don't remember being born, but I do remember going to the hospital when my dad had hepatitis. I was about a year old.
    I also remember getting my butt beat at Ocean City when I was two because I dumped a bucket of sand down my swim suit...but i was potty trained at 9 months old and spoke in complete sentences at a year old. I don't know if there is a correlation.